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Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer (1865 - 1953)

Lot 334: f - LUCIEN LÉVY-DHURMER FRENCH, 1865-1953


November 16, 2004
London, United Kingdom

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signed Levy Dhurmer l.r.

oil on canvas


152 by 231cm., 60 by 91in.



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.'

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