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Paul Delvaux (1897-1994)
Paul Delvaux (1897-1994)

Douce nuit

Paul Delvaux (1897-1994)
Douce nuit
signed and dated 'P.DELVAUX 4-62' (lower right)
oil on canvas
51.1/8 x 72 in. (130 x 185 cm.)
Painted in April, 1962
Dr. and Mrs. Tagnon, Brussels (1969).
L.-L. Sosset, "Les expositions Bruxelles. Paul Delvaux," Les Beaux-Arts, 28 January 1967, no. 1183 (illustrated).
P. Caso. "La vie artistique: Paul Delvaux au Muse d'Ixelles," Le Soir, 30 November 1967.
A. Terrasse and J. Saucet, Paul Delvaux, Berlin, 1972, pp. 47 and 54 (illustrated, p. 54).
M. Butor, J. Clair and S. Houbart-Wilkin, Delvaux, Catalogue de l'oeuvre peint, Lausanne, 1975, p. 256, no. 268 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie Andr-Franois Petit, Bellmer, Brauner, Dal, Delvaux, Ernst, Magritte, Tanguy, June 1962 (illustrated).
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Paul Delvaux, November-December 1967, no. 43 (illustrated).
Paris, Muse des Arts Dcoratifs, Rtrospective Paul Delvaux, May-July 1969, no. 57 (illustrated).
Sale Room Notice
Please note the correct PROVENANCE should read:
Mme. Cappelle, Brussels.
Dr. and Mrs. Tagnon, Brussels (1969).

Lot Essay

Douce nuit is a prime example of the artist's mature style, in which both the metaphysical and dream-like urban views of de Chirico and the incongruous juxtapositions of Magritte find echoes in his work. As with the majority of Delvaux's paintings, the effect of "unreality" in Douce nuit is the result of placing incommunicative groups of figures in a carefully rendered space, the relationship between each group of figures characterized by a physical proximity but distanced by total lack of interaction. This creates an erotic tension, as the voyeuristic figure of the savant Zachary, familiar from so many of Delvaux paintings from the late 1930s onwards, watches from the corner of his eye as the two amies tenderly embrace each other. The sexual tension is heightened by the dramatic depiction of the shadows cast by the trees from the light of the full moon, and the lone nude seated at a table in the center of the composition, a fortune-teller with no fortunes to tell, her expressionless face confronting the viewer.

Douce nuit is one of three variations on the theme of the amies and the savant from 1962.

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