Thursday, June 11, 2015

8 Rarely Seen Works by Henri Matisse, Lyonel Feininger, Pablo Picasso, Pierre Bonnard, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir

1871 - 1956
signed Feininger (lower left) and dated Donnerstag d. 1. April. 1915 (lower right)
watercolour and pen and ink on paper
image size: 20.3 by 26.4cm.; 8 by 10 3/8 in.
sheet size: 24.1 by 30.7cm.; 9 1/2 by 12 1/8 in.
Executed on 1st April 1915.

Pablo Picasso
1881 - 1973
dated Vallauris jeudi 22.2.51. (lower centre)
pen and brush and ink, wash and gouache on paper
50.3 by 65.7cm.
19 3/4 by 25 7/8 in.
Executed in Vallauris on 22nd February 1951.

Henri Matisse
1869 - 1954
signed Henri Matisse (lower left); signed Henri Matisse and dedicated à M et Mme Abel Desjardins, souvenir affectueux, Dec. 1919 on the reverse
oil on canvasboard
23.7 by 19cm.
9 1/4 by 7 1/2 in.
Painted in Nice in 1919.

Painted in 1919, portraying his model seated in front of an open window in his Mediterranean studio. The model posing in a chair was a popular subject during this period, and the supple curves of her body and the rich, textural contrasts of her clothing are beautifully executed in the present work. Indeed, Matisse makes his model, the young Antoinette Arnoud, the focus of this lively and unusually direct composition. She is depicted close-up, filling the pictorial field as she reclines against the chair that is loosely sketched in the background. She assumes a rather flirtatious pose, with her rose coloured parasol held at a jaunty angle and Matisse achieves a heightened sense of immediacy through his use of a broad diagonal set against the green vertical of the shuttered French door which frames the composition. This concentration on his model, and the attention that Matisse pays in rendering the elegant florals of her dress, anticipate some of his later portraits of fashionable women and illustrate his skill in harmonising bold colour planes with decorative patterns. More

Pablo Picasso
1881 - 1973
signed Picasso (upper left); dated 6 Avl 44 on the reverse
oil on canvas
60 by 92cm.
23 5/8 by 36 1/4 in.
Painted on 6th April 1944.

In early April 1944 Picasso painted several still-lifes featuring a candle and a cafetiere on a table-top, executed in his studio on the rue des Grands-Augustins. Because of the restrictive circumstances of occupied Paris, Picasso made a habit of painting at night or behind heavily shaded windows, and the chromatic severity of many of his pictures from this time conveys the ambiance of these conditions. Like other works from this series, this seemingly simple composition of a traditional genre reflects multi-layered symbolism. As is the case with so much of Picasso’s art, he imbues the most innocent subject matter with an erotic undertone. In the case of Nature morte, the images of the cafetiere and the fruit bowl carry Freudian connotations, acting as symbols of male and female sexuality. More

Pablo Picasso
1881 - 1973
signed Picasso (lower left) and dated Boisgeloup 30 mars XXXIV (along the top); dated Boisgeloup 30 mars XXXIV on the stretcher
oil on canvas
81 by 65cm.
32 by 25 1/2 in.
Painted in Boisgeloup on 30th March 1934.

Picasso's striking portrayal of two women reading belongs to the extraordinary group of canvases inspired by Marie-Thérèse Walter, his beloved mistress during the early 1930s. Distinguished by their rich colouration, harmonic curves and sweeping arabesques, these exceptional pictures are renowned as Picasso's most euphoric, sexually-charged, fantastical and inspired compositions, and they rank among the most instantly recognizable works of 20th century art. Of all the manifestations of Picasso's exceptionally prolific career, it is during his 'Marie-Thérèse period' when his creative force was at its most powerful. Among the most evocative of these pictures is Deux personnages also known as La Lecture, created when Marie-Thérèse was firmly at the centre of Picasso's artistic and private universe. More

Henri Matisse
1869 - 1954
signed Henri Matisse (lower right)
oil on canvasboard
41 by 33cm.
16 1/8 by 13cm.
Painted in Nice in 1919.

Femme à l'ombrelle verte was painted during the early months of 1919 at the Hôtel Méditerranée et de la Côte d’Azur in Nice. Matisse took his first room at the Méditerranée in November 1918 and, returning to Nice each autumn, would continue to reside there for the next three years, deriving inspiration from the Italian-style ceilings, old rococo decor and sunlit interiors. As Jack Cowart writes, describing Matisse’s room there: ‘This hotel would become for Matisse a most fertile, expansive environment… His first room had shuttered, double French doors opening out onto a balcony with a carved or cast balustrade [...]. Models were chosen to pose on the balcony, holding brightly colored red, green, or orange umbrellas. These parasols not only shaded them from the sun but also provided a soft irradiation of colored light that Matisse would capture on canvas’ (J. Cowart, ‘The Place of Silvered Light’, in Henri Matisse, The Early Years in Nice, 1916-1930 (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 24). More

Pierre Bonnard
1867 - 1947
signed Bonnard (lower left)
oil on canvas
68 by 94cm.
26 3/4 by 37in.
Painted in 1933.

The present work depicts a view near Bonnard’s house Le Bosquet at Le Cannet, and is a wonderful example of the rich nature and captivating light of the south of France that provided an important source of inspiration for the artist. Situated above Cannes on the Côte d’Azur, Le Bosquet was surrounded by lush vegetation that could be seen from the house. Both the villa and the town itself offered the artist a wide array of subjects to paint, resulting in powerful, boldly coloured compositions. As Jörg Zutter wrote: ‘By 1931 Le Bosquet was Bonnard’s favourite place to work and in 1939 it became the couple’s permanent home. The house and its surroundings provided an ideal work environment for the artist, who continued to paint studies of Marthe, often standing in the bathroom or lying in the tub. He also painted still lifes, self-portraits, interiors and the views onto the countryside from different windows and doors’ (J. Zutter in Pierre Bonnard: Observing Nature (exhibition catalogue), National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2003, p. 61). More

Pierre-Auguste Renoir
1841 - 1919
signed Renoir (lower right)
pastel on paper
60.8 by 46.5cm.
24 by 18 1/4 in.
Executed circa 1890.

Whilst Renoir’s work of the early 1880s had been defined by his return to a classically-inspired and more formal style that reasserted the importance of the drawn line in his work, by 1890 he had returned to a warmer and more delicate handling. In Femme à la toque noire this new warmth is emphasised by Renoir’s exquisite use of the pastel. Renoir worked in this medium throughout his life and its powdery effervescence was well-suited to his singular style. Pastel allowed him to reconcile the fresh spontaneity afforded by drawing, with the colour that was so fundamental to his aesthetic. François Daulte suggests: ‘If he frequently used that medium to depict those near and dear to him, it was because pastel, which combines color with line, gave him the possibility of working rapidly to capture in all their vividness the rapid flash of intelligence and the fleeting show of emotion’ (F. Daulte, Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Water-colours, Pastels, and Drawings in Colour, London, 1959, p. 10). In the present work Renoir’s choice of medium imbues the painting with spontaneous intimacy and brings a fresh vivacity to his subject.  More

1841 - 1919
signed Renoir (lower left)
charcoal on paper
52 by 41cm.
20 1/2 by 16in.
Drawn circa 1890.

Renoir’s earliest depictions of his fellow artist date from this first period of Impressionism. In the summer of 1873 he visited Monet at his house at Argenteuil and painted the artist at work in his garden and a year later - in the months after the exhibition - he joined the Monet family there once more, painting a touching portrait of the artist’s wife and young son in the garden of their home. He also painted a number of more formal portraits including a picture of the artist at his easel, Claude Monet (fig. 1), now in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. Over the following decades the two artists maintained their friendship, although by the time Renoir drew this portrait of Monet around 1890, they had ceased exhibiting their work with the original Impressionist group. They both had already attained considerable commercial success, and Renoir in particular was now regarded as the most sought-after portrait painter in Paris. More

1881 - 1973
signed P. Ruiz Picasso (lower left)
pastel on paper
54 by 42cm.
21 1/4 by 16 1/2 in.
Executed in Barcelona in 1899.

La Rencontre illustrates Picasso’s immediate responsiveness to this world of new influences. Embracing the modern sensibility that would characterise his depictions of Parisian life the following year, the work is characteristic of Picasso’s acute and perceptive observation of his surroundings. It also reveals his increasing receptivity to new modes of expression. The pastel is applied thickly – almost sensuously - in bold swathes of colour which Picasso uses to delineate space and evoke atmosphere. This new approach to form and colour is reflected in the development of his drawing over this period as he gradually abandoned the academic technique of modelling in favour of bolder lines and the use of blocks of white or black to suggest depth. This shift was influenced by the prevailing spirit of Catalan modernisme and specifically by his work on graphic projects – most famously in the design for a menu for Els 4 Gats – which emphasised a flatter, more linear style and the use of colour to create a dynamic of depth and movement in the composition. As John Richardson observed of this critical period, it ‘reveals an astonishingly rapid advance not just in acuity of observation and technique but in drama and style. Everything has more of an edge to it’ (J. Richardson, A Life of Picasso. Volume I: 1881-1906, London, 1991, p. 109).  More