" ! " : This lot is imported from outside the EU. For each lot the buyer's premium is calculated at 31.1% of the hammer price up to a value of €150,000 plus 21.58% of any amount in excess of €150,000.
Adrien-Jean le Mayeur de Meprès (Belgian, 1880-1958)
By Drs Cathinka Huizing
The paintings by this Belgian painter, offered at Christie's, show the artistic development of both his life and art. The painter, probably an autodidact, started his career in his twenties in Belgium. Although he had already began to incline towards luminist characteristics, his style, themes and the use of paint are still highly traditional at this stage. A good example of his earlier work is the view of a boulevard in Brussels in winter (lot 168). Here, Le Mayeur uses a post-expressionist manner of painting. Thick layers with blobs of colour, a broad and forceful touch give a sketchy impression of a road in his birthplace. It is known that Le Mayeur depicted this subject more than once. This painting could well be a preliminary study for Le Cornet, Avenue Defré à Uccle. It is notable that the signature on this work as well as other early work is written as a single word. The artist would later sign with 'Le Mayeur'. His gift for the use of colour, composition and rendering atmosphere, was inherited from his father who was a wellknown painter as well.
Le Mayeur travelled extensively and became a true 'traveller-painter', since he was wealthy enough to not have to paint for money. He was free to choose what themes to depict and how to develop them. He lived in Marseille, St. Tropez and Venice, for as long as he wanted to. Later on he set out for North Africa, Madagascar, Arabic countries and India and Tahiti. He chose his locations mainly for leisure reasons, but mentally he recorded the different atmospheres as the day passed by. He then made numerous sketches and gouaches, before using oilpaint. The sketch from Dhibouti (lot 170) is inscribed with 'soir' (evening) along the lower edge, refering to the quality of evening light. The depicted scene is of coffee pickers on a square in Dhibouti. In an old letter Le Mayeur writes about his interest in Somalian women, crouching as they shifted the coffee beans. About the Somalian light he wrote: Les longues trainées de soleil y pénétrent courant sur les chairs brunes femmes accropies, sur les cafés, dorant tout de sa poussière d'or. (The elongated sunbeams gradually find their way along the brown bodies of the women crouching between the coffeebeans gilding everything with their gold dust).
In late 1929 Le Mayeur visited Bali for the first time. This 'Island of the Gods' left an indelible impression on him. He would return in 1932, arriving by boat at Bululeng at the northern part of the island. Bali was a huge source of inspiration for the artist. He was devoted to his immediate surroundings: the Balinese people, the luxuriant flora, the beach and the sea, both usually bathing in exuberant sunlight.
Comments in The Singapore Free Press on an exhibition: The paintings of M. Mayeur form one of the best art exhibitions yet arranged in Singapore and His technique is simple but effective. He indicates every essential without going into detail. His colouring too is brilliantly effective, and he has captured the brightness and colourfullness of the tropical scene with the minimum of effort.
Having settled in Kelandis, Le Mayeur asked two legong dancers, Ni Pollok and Ni Reneng to be his models. In 1935 the artist married his favourite model, Ni Pollok, in accordance with the Balinese Adat. After the ceremony they built their own cottage on Sanur Beach. Nowadays this house is owned by the Indonesian authorities. It was decided that the house and its contents would be preserved in perpetuity, serving as a museum.
The Balinese works offered at Christie's were all executed after World War II. The intensity of the colours has not diminished and Le Mayeur includes more details. The centre of the compositions is Ni Pollok, often in striking dance poses, either in a forest, at the lotus pond or by the loom. Compared with his pre-war Balinese works, the number of figures on a painting increases, as we see here at Christies's in the 'pond-painting' (lot 174). The figures are often placed under an arch of boughs and flowers. Spaciousness is heightened by the inclusion of the beach- and seascape in the background, with the splendid colours remaining. Although Le Mayeur uses more green in his later work, his palette is as bright as ever: orange, red and yellow. The colours that are always his favourites.
We thank Drs Cathinka Huizing for her help in cataloguing these lots.