This confident ink drawing with its fluent lines was produced in the early years of O'Conor's stay at the Breton town of Pont-Aven, when he created much of his best painted and graphic work. Although he was yet to meet Gauguin, he entered into important friendships with several followers of the Frensh artist, including Armand Seguin, Wladyslaw Slewinski and Charles Filiger. These two or three highly significant years witnessed O'Conor's transformation into a fully fledged Post-Impressionist artist, thanks in no small part to his precocious understanding of the work of the recently deceased Van Gogh.
The vertical striations in the face of the model recall the 'striped' application of paint employed by O'Conor in his paintings of 1892-94, such as Breton Peasant Woman of 1893. The boldly hatched lines blur the features of the girl's face, reminding us of the fact that O'Conor was no follower of convention. Indeed, it is quite possible that he consciously avoided any subtlety of expression out of sympathy for Gauguin's widely declared mission to seek out the 'savage' and the primitive. It was Gauguin, after all, who would refer to O'Conor in 1894 as 'one man of Samoa' on a print he dedicated to his friend.
We are very grateful to Jonathan Benington for providing the catalogue entry for the above lot.