Jean Dunand enjoys a significant reputation as an exceptional artisan, master of dinanderie and of lacquer; but this technical virtuosity should not be allowed to overshadow his very considerable talent as an artist. His reputation deservedly rests also on his brilliance in conceiving the repertoire of forms, decorative motifs, and pictorial subjects that he executed with such skill.
Among his most characteristic motifs and imagery are abstract geometric, often asymmetric patterns, lush, stylized plants, wild animals and fish, and human subjects, either specific portraits, most notably of dancer Josephine Baker, or elegant female subjects – such as the reclining draped nude of the present lot. Two versions of this subject are recorded in the catalogue raisonné. The first (cat. no. 284 ), dated to 1929 and presented at Dunand’s Galerie de la Renaissance exhibition of that year, is more tightly cropped than the present example (cat. no. 282), which he executed the following year. The figure is shown de dos, a device frequently used by Dunand to evoke a generic rather than specific female charm. She hints at the exotic and in this regard aligns with many other works by Dunand that play to a romanticized imagery of the figures and landscape of French colonial North Africa, a persistent theme for the artist.