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Lot 47: FÉLIX VALLOTTON

Est: £350,000 GBP - £500,000 GBPSold:
Sotheby'sFebruary 03, 2004London, United Kingdom

Item Overview

Description

signed F. Vallotton and dated 98 (lower left)

Dimensions

36 by 29cm., 14 1/8 by 11 3/8 in.

Artist or Maker

Medium

tempera on board

Date

Executed in 1898.

Exhibited

Paris, Musée d'Albi, Toulouse-Lautrec, ses amis et ses maîtres, commémoration par le Musée d'Albi du cinquantième anniversaire de la mort du peintre, 1951
Paris, Maison de la Pensée Française, Félix Vallotton, 1865-1925, 1955, no. 5
Winterthur, Kunstmuseum; Bremen, Kunsthalle; Dusseldorf, Kunsthalle; Paris, Musée du Petit Palais and Geneva, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Musée Rath, Félix Vallotton: Bilder, Zeichnungen, Graphik, 1978-79, pl. 29, no. 32, illustrated in the catalogue
New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery; Houston, Museum of Fine Arts; Indianapolis, Museum of Fine Art; Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum and Lausanne, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Félix Vallotton: A Retrospective, 1991-93, no. 127, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Zurich, Kunsthaus and Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Nabis 1888-1900, 1993-94, no. 126, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Florence, Palazzo Corsini, Il Tempo dei Nabis: Bonnard, Vuillard, Maurice Denis, Vallotton, Sérusier, Ranson, Roussel, 1890-1940, 1998, no. 64, illustrated in the catalogue
Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts and Marseille, Musée Cantini, Le Très singulier Vallotton, 2001, no. 21, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Literature

Livre de raison (The Artist's Handlist), probably no. 390, listed as one of 'Trois études, peintures et pastels. intérieurs'
Hedy Hahnloser-Bühler, Félix Vallotton et ses amis, Paris, 1936, pl. 12, no. 21, illustrated (titled Femme s'apprêtant à sortir)
Francis Jourdain, Félix Vallotton. Avec une étude d'Edmond Jaloux, Geneva, 1953, pl. 1, illustrated
Charles Roux, Le Temps Chanel, Paris, 1979, p. 149, illustrated
Günter Busch, Bernard Dorival, Patrick Grainville & Doris Jakubec, Vallotton, Lausanne, 1985, p. 41, no. 38, illustrated in colour
Misia (exhibition catalogue), Musée de l'Annonciade, Saint-Tropez, 1996, p. 70, illustrated in colour

Provenance

PROPERTY FROM THE FAMILY OF THE ARTIST

Thadée Natanson, Paris (a gift from the artist)
Jacques Rodrigues-Henriques, Paris (the artist's stepson; acquired from the above on 18th March 1946)

Notes

Depicting the quintessential Nabis image ? a woman in an interior ? Misia à sa coiffeuse reflects Vallotton's close collaboration with the Nabis group, and is among the finest paintings of his career. The sitter is Misia Godebska-Natanson (1872-1950), the wife of the Parisian publisher Thadée Natanson who, together with his brothers Alfred and Alexandre, founded La Revue blanche in 1891. Among the regular contributors to this journal were Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard, and between 1894 and 1897 Vallotton's prints, especially portraits, appeared regularly in La Revue blanche.

Despite the Vallotton's increasing contacts in Paris, he spent most of his time with a small group of friends centred around Thadée and Misia Natanson. He visited them often at the couple's Parisian home at rue Saint-Florentin as well as at their country house at Villeneuve-sur-Yonne (fig. 5). Fascinated by Misia's energetic personality, Vallotton executed several of her portraits, including Misia Godebska, now at the Neue Pinakothek in Munich (fig. 3), and Le Baisemain (Les Amoureux. Thadée et Misia), portraying the couple together, both executed in 1898. The present work was almost certainly executed in Villeneuve, during Vallotton's stay there in the summer of 1898. Discussing the artist's relationship with the Natansons, John Klein wrote:

'Within the circle of his new associates, Vallotton was closest to Thadée and Misia Natanson. They exerted the strongest pull on his imagination and his desire to give image to his society. Attractive and coquettish, with a penchant for self-display, Misia offered a breathless contrast to Vallotton's taciturnity (one cannot imagine anyone else calling him 'my little Vallo'). Vallotton expressed his fascination with her in several portraits painted in stronger, flatter colors than those he customarily used. In Misia at her Dressing Table [the present work], for example, we are witness to a private act of intense self-regard. Severe and sculptural, Misia leans against the marble top of her dressing table, her absolute absorption heightened by the gestures of her impossibly bent right arm and her contrarily elongated left arm: the first self-referential, the latter a barrier to our access' (J. Klein, 'Portraiture and Assimilation of the 'very singular Vallotton", in Félix Vallotton: A Retrospective (exhibition catalogue), 1991-93, op. cit., pp. 106 & 108).

Alongside her husband, Misia played an important role in the Parisian artistic circles at the turn of the century, as a muse and patron of artists as well as writers and composers. She was particularly close to the group of Nabis artists and was portrayed by painters such as Bonnard (fig. 4), Vuillard, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec. Her vibrant character certainly left a strong impression on Vallotton, and is reflected in the bright palette with which he chose to depict her in the present work. Portrayed in the intimate setting in front of her dressing table, as if unaware of being watched, Misia's large figure dominates the composition, the curves of her body and dress in contrast with the sharp horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines intersecting the picture plane. The light, coming from an invisible source behind the curtain, creates a play of light and shade that accentuates her face, bust and dress. A dramatic effect is achieved by juxtaposing the bright, open tones in the centre with the dark brown at the left, right and bottom, creating an effect of a frame-within-the-frame. Executed with a vitality unique within Vallotton's ?uvre, Misia à sa coiffeuse is not only one of the most accomplished portraits of his career, but also an important document of its time.

Fig. 1, A photograph of Misia Godebska-Natanson
Fig. 2, Félix Vallotton, Misia à son bureau, 1897, tempera on card, Musée de L'Annonciade, Saint-Tropez
Fig. 3, Félix Vallotton, Misia Godebska, 1898, gouache on board, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Neue Pinakothek, Munich
Fig. 4, Pierre Bonnard, Portrait de Misia Godebska, 1908, oil on canvas, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
Fig. 5, Félix Vallotton, Edouard Vuillard, Stéphane Natanson, Marthe Mellot, Thadée Natanson, Misia Natanson and Cipa Godebska at the Natansons' home in Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, 1897-98

Auction Details

Impressionist & Modern Art, Evening

by
Sotheby's
February 03, 2004, 12:00 AM EST

34-35 New Bond Street, London, LDN, W1A 2AA, UK