Kees van Dongen's FEMME AU CHAPEAU

Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Kees van Dongen's FEMME AU CHAPEAU

Sotheby's Art Impressionniste et Moderne Sale, 24 MARCH 2017. Estimate 1,500,000 — 2,000,000 EUR.

Kees van Dongen's FEMME AU CHAPEAU
No painter other than Van Dongen is able to claim “a more attractive personality, a more complete science, a more appealing and more disturbing art, an understanding that is, at any rate, more exact, larger and more poetic of the present moment in all its beauty.” These words in praise of the Dutch painter’s talent belong to Charles Malpel, a lawyer from Montauban, winegrower in his free time, and in particular a knowledgeable critic and amateur of art and who was one the most fervent supporters of Kees Van Dongen at the beginning of his career. The present portrait is of his wife, who was Van Dongen’s model for several compositions in the years 1907-09.

This major portrait was painted at a time of recognition for Van Dongen. Following the scandal of his first Fauvist works exhibited at the Salon d’Automne in 1905, Van Dongen developed his style, modulating the chromatic violence of his first works. The paintings from 1907-10 are none the less marked by a radical modernity, as much in their palette as in their technique. As Apollinaire describes, Van Dongen “composes his paintings according to an absolute concern for the full truth, a total newness.” In 1908, several prestigious exhibitions were dedicated to the painter, including three solo shows which greatly contributed to his reputation: one organized in March 1908 by Kahnweiler, one at the Galerie Flechteim in Dusseldorf which encouraged exchanges between Van Dongen and the artists from the Die Brucke group and one organized in Toulouse by Charles Malpel.

The theme of the woman dominated Van Dongen’s art at this time. For all that, commissioned portraits were still rare, and the painter favored portraits of his close friends, portraits of an enchanting sensuality, as well as representations of cabaret artists, prostitutes, circus acrobats. Femme au chapeau employs the facture characteristic of Van Dongen’s fauvist period but also reveals the close friendship between the painter and Charles Malpel.

Estimate 1,500,000 — 2,000,000 EUR. Sotheby's Art Impressionniste et Moderne Sale, 24 MARCH 2017.

Kees van Dongen, 1877 - 1968. FEMME AU CHAPEAU (PORTRAIT DE MADAME CHARLES MALPEL), signed van Dongen (lower right), oil on canvas. 36 1/4 x 28 3/4 in. Painted circa 1907-08.


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