signed de FEURE l.r.
oil on canvas
81 by 65cm., 32 by 25 1/2 in.
Paris, L'Art Nouveau Bing, Exposition des Oeuvres de Georges de Feure, 1903, no. 5
Bulée, 'Georges de Feure', Elseviers Geïillustreerd Maanblad, Vol. XX, 1990, p. 489, no. 6, illustrated
Henri Frantz, 'Georges de Feure', Le Figaro illustré, February 1900, no. 119, illustrated
Ian Millman, Georges de Feure, Maître du Symbolisme et de l'Art Nouveau, Paris, 1992, p. 115, illustrated
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION
Sale: Sotheby's, New York, 12 October 1994, lot 185
Request more information
De Feure's paintings were inspired by the poetry of Baudelaire and Aubrey Beardsley's graphic oeuvre. He shared Baudelaire's preoccupations with the femme fatale, Sapphic love and dandyism. The composition of Le buveur d'absinthe bears resemblance to de Feure's oil painting La voix du mal of 1895 (Robert Walker Collection), in which a woman in nearly identical posture and attire contemplates sapphic love.
In Le buveur d'absinthe, a young man ponders the invisible near distance whilst in front of him sits a glass of absinthe. The powerful allure of this greenish liquor was almost mythical at the time. While many associated it with a life of debauchery and vice, many artists and poets of the nineteenth century were under the spell of the powerful green potion. Oscar Wilde once proclaimed 'Absinthe has a wonderful colour, green. A glass of absinthe is as poetical as anything in the world. What difference is there between a glass of absinthe and a sunset?'. The intoxication and ill-effects of absinth consumption were depicted by artists such as Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Raffaelli and Beraud among others. Whilst novelists such as Emile Zola and the Goncourt brothers approached the subject by telling tales of working class women descending into alcoholism, de Feure's placement of a glass of absinthe in front of his sitter clearly singles him out as an upper class dandy.
Georges de Feure was instrumental in the creation of the Art Nouveau style in France. A multi-talented, versatile and creative artist, his creations ranged from Symbolist paintings, lithographs and posters to Art Deco furniture, frames, carpets and glassware. He created ballets for Ravel and Debussy, designed theatrical costumes and stage sets and even constructed aeroplanes.