PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION
Sale: Sotheby's New York, 24 October 1989, lot 128
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
Painted circa 1900-05, the present work is a visual transposition of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, set in a mystical Thai landscape.
One of the most dazzling colourists among the French Symbolist painters, Lévy-Dhurmer was fascinated by the relationship between music and painting. Attempting to establish a synaesthetic nexus between the two arts, he evoked in paint the spirit of compositions such as a Beethoven sonata, a Debussy prelude or, as in the present oil, a specific composition by Tchaikovsky.
In describing these works, Lévy-Dhurmer writes of 'undulating figures fading out in indecisive backgrounds, still or murky waters, where chaste dreams turn into sensuality and voluptuousness - this is all I have attempted to capture in those agitated bodies, that become still and then fade away - they are the subject of an endless pursuit but shall never be reached.'