Description: AUTUMN BOUQUET, VIEW FROM A PARIS WINDOW
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AUTUMN BOUQUET, VIEW FROM A PARIS WINDOW
51 by 40.5cm.; 20 by 16in.
oil on canvas
Sale, Sotheby's, London, 13th May 1987, lot 158, whence purchased by the present owner
London, Royal Academy, Summer Exhibition, 1939, no.237.
After his years at the Slade from 1908 - 1912, Nevinson left London for Paris to study at the Académie Julian and then at Matisse's 'Circle Russe'. He appears to have met all the major avant-garde artists and pronounced that Matisse, Derain and Vlaminck were 'well known to me if no one else' (Nevinson quoted in R.Ingleby, 'Utterly Tired of Chaos', C.R.W.Nevinson: The Twentieth Century, exh.cat., Imperial War Museum, London, October 1999 - January 200, p.13). Matisse's influence in particular is clear in the bold fauvist colours of the flowers in Autumn Bouquet and the compositional arrangement of the present work is highly reminiscent of Matisse's own window compositions such as Open Window, Collioure (1905, Coll. National Gallery of Art, Washington).
In contrast to the vivid colours in the foreground, Nevinson shifts the focus in the background to the street culture and the bohemian lifestyle he experienced in early 20th Century Paris. His autobiography recalls the visits to the cafés around rue de la Gaite, drinks at Medrano's Circus and extravagant evenings mixing with the Parisian beau-monde of actors, actresses, authors, artists, writers and musicians. He became known as 'Nevinski' and later surmised that 'the bleak poverty of Paris and the desperados were mere colourful grist for my mill' (Nevinson quoted in M.Walsh, C.R.W.Nevinson, This Cult of Violence, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2002, p.32).
Nevinson's time spent in Paris before the First World War was also a crucial period for the development of his interest in the Futurists. He became friends with Severini and Boccioni, attended Gertrude Stein's Saturday 'salons' and went on to share a studio with Modigliani. Although he never made Paris a permanent home, Nevinson was to return on numerous occasions throughout his life.