Rik Wouters (1882-1916)
Rik Wouters (1882-1916)

La Femme à la blouse jaune

Rik Wouters (1882-1916)
La Femme à la blouse jaune
inscribed with authentification 'No 43 Femme à la blouse jaune à été peint par Rik Wouters 1911 Boitsfort Mme Vve R Wouters' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
65.5 x 54.5 cm.
Painted in 1911
Nel Wouters, Overijse.
Galerie Robert Finck, Brussels.
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner in 1973.
R. Avermaete, Rik Wouters, Brussels 1986, p. 205.
O. Bertrand, Rik Wouters, Antwerp 1995, no. 57 (illustrated).
Charleroi, Salle de la Bourse, Cercle Artistique et Littéraire, XXIème salon, 15 - 31 March 1947, no. 9.
Antwerp, Koninklijke Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Rik Wouters, 5 - 27 April 1947, no. 51.
Brussels, Galerie Breughel, Rik Wouters, 18 - 30 September 1954, no. 4.
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Rik Wouters, 1962.
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, L'art en Belgique, 1880-1950, Hommage à Luc et Paul Haesaerts, 27 June - 23 August 1978, no. 103, (illustrated p. 126).

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Lisa Snijders
Lisa Snijders

Lot Essay

Executed in 1911, La Femme à la Blouse jaune is one of the paintings by Rik Wouters that show his ability and interest for capturing impressions, rather than making realistic images. We see a pretty young woman posing in a summer hat and a blouse, bathed in a surrounding of vibrant colours. Only an impression of the woman can be seen, a swift moment where she is an expression of light and colour. The visual experience is key in Wouters’ paintings. The life-likeness of the work is not expressed by many details, but rather by the indeterminacy of the suggestion, combined with many different visual sensations.

The portraits and interiors painted by Wouters in 1911 and 1912 demonstrate his talent for combining the three-dimensional with the two-dimensional surface of the painting. He finds solutions in simple colour contrasts and a few distinct contours. He achieves a certain expressionism in his forms by using a painters’ knife (spatula) in addition to a brush. Wouters was a great admirer of James Ensor, who was a master of the knife. His love for Ensor’s refined colourist effects and forms expresses itself in the present lot, where the pleads, the fabric and even the expression on the face of the woman are the result of Wouters’ exquisite handling of a knife and coarse brushstrokes (H. Todts, Rik Wouters. Des origines à l'oeuvre, exh. cat., Brussels 2002, p. 36).

The use of a knife is a clear expression of Wouters’ extreme spontaneity. Wouters did not start a work from a scheduled plan. His widow Nel wrote about his working process in 1944: 'Rik never knows beforehand what he is going to paint and nothing is planned in advance. (...) For him a painting is the personal life around him, the intimacy of his interior. (...) Again, he never plans a picture' (G. Audinet, Rik Wouters. Des origines à l'oeuvre, exh. cat., Brussels 2002, p. 218). Wouters truly dreaded working on the same picture again after a first session, and this may explain the sketch-like appearance of many of his works including La Femme à la Blouse jaune. Sudden moments, impressions, or incidences of light could bring him to a ceaseless and enthusiastic creativity that forced him to paint. Especially the first sessions were lengthy and time-consuming, and drove Nel to desperation sometimes.

The combination of impressionism and expressionism in Wouters’ paintings, which can also be seen in this work, makes it especially difficult to label his style. Influenced by James Ensor and from 1909 on by Cézanne, Wouters developed a very individual and influential style of painting, which was later adopted as Brabants fauvisme. Nevertheless, there has never been consensus of opinion among contemporaries and even among later critics, concerning the name of this style and its place in the canon of art history.

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