Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)
Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)

L'élégante au chapeau

Details
Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)
L'élégante au chapeau
signed ‘Van Dongen’ (lower left)
oil on canvas
29 x 19 3/4 in. (73.9 x 50.3 cm.)
Painted circa 1930
Provenance
Galerie de l'Élysée, Paris.
Private collection, Geneva, by whom acquired in the 1970s.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
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Brought to you by

Ishbel Gray
Ishbel Gray

Lot Essay

This work will be included in the forthcoming Kees van Dongen catalogue critique of paintings and drawings being prepared by Jacques Chalom Des Cordes under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.


Kees van Dongen was one of the greatest chroniclers of the high life of the 20th century. His pictures are redolent of the glamour and beauty both of the highest circles of society and of the demimonde - those involved in entertainment: dancers, singers and prostitutes. His was a world of sensation and sensuality, and this is perfectly conveyed in the elegant, elongated figures that bare so much of their flesh by the sea in his painting L’élégante au chapeau. Resort life is captured in all its glorious ease: pleasure boats float carelessly, pushed along by a summer breeze, while various other characters are shown swimming in the sea or walking by the shore.

During the era of Napoleon III, it was essentially Eugène Boudin who raised the image of a leisurely day on the beach to the status of a valid scene for artistic representation, yet Van Dongen appears to be revelling in the very modern pleasures that such activities involve, the modern clothing - lack thereof - that Boudin's era would not tolerate. L’élégante au chapeau is therefore a telling comment on and celebration of Van Dongen's own times and its various delights. It is also an exercise and comment within the realms of the history of modern painting, and of modern tastes. It is intriguing to compare Van Dongen's portrayal of this scene to those captured with such a difference in sights and in atmosphere by Boudin less than a century earlier. This is a reflection of the long appeal of Deauville as a resort to the French, and especially to the Parisians. Its popularity, initially as a health resort, was cemented by the construction of a convenient rail link from Paris to nearby Trouville. Even today, the glamorous hotels, racecourses and casino in Deauville continue to attract a wealthy clientele.

In L’élégante au chapeau, Van Dongen presents the whole spectrum of this beach scene, with life by, on and in the water. The spectrum notion is made all the more appropriate considering the boldness of the palette and the expressionistic brushstrokes that he has used in so many areas of the canvas. Here, it is used to great effect to chronicle the lifestyle of luxury - of elegance and indolence on the coast.

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