15 April 2008
Lizzy Ansingh (Dutch, 1875-1959)
Het Knekelballet van Harry van Tussenbroek: the performance
signed and dated 'L.Ansingh./1944.' (lower right); and signed again and inscribed with title (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
120 x 140 cm.
Anonymous sale, Christie's, Amsterdam, 21 April 1993, lot 141.
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Johan H. van Eikeren, De Amsterdamse Joffers, Bussum, 1957, ill.no. 62.
Amsterdam, Arti et Amicitiae, Lizzy Ansingh, tentoonstelling naar aanleiding van den 75en verjaardag der schilderes, 14 October-5 November 1950, cat.no. 45.
The paintings of Lizzy Ansingh are often considered to be 'alienating': the dolls she portrayed are puppets with a soul and not merely lifeless toys. The present lot takes this one step further, as the marionettes are skeletons of birds. With the Skeleton Ballet Ansingh referres to a famous puppet theatre, the theatre of Harry van Tussenbroek, who was also a decor and costumemaker.
Ansingh has chosen to depict the final scene of a ballet with the audience throwing flower wreaths, as the dancers and musicians are giving one last acte de presence. Curious birds glance at the stage. The painting has a somewhat foreboding undertone, as the wreaths allude to funeral wreaths, the garlands in the upper right resemble dust-traps and the skeletons could be a metaphor for the transitory aspect of life. However, the subject of music and dance is quite contradictory, being full of life and gaiety.
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