Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer 'The Dream Painter' was one of the leading painters of the Symbolist ideal at the turn of the century and one of the early exhibitors at the Salon des Rose+Croix, together with Fernand Khnopff and Edmond Aman-Jean.
Many of the Symbolist painters strove to represent their preference for the supernatural over the divine, painting fairy-like figures and chimeras such as Gustave Moreau and Khnopff or sirens in the case of Ary Renan; all of which were fantastical creatures tainted with a certain malevolence, symbolising at times, evil. Portraits became the main form of representation for these types of work and became a genre in which the Symbolists excelled. As Philippe Jullian stated '...Some are young gentle girls, but at times they could be quite disturbing like the models of Khnopff and of Lévy-Dhurmer, or quite simply wrapped in thought like those of Armand Point and Aman-Jean;...the foliage like tapestry, the rocks like Leonardo, the indistinctly patterned materials, set these portraits apart from everyday existence. Others, like apparitions....are endowed with magical properties....The woman must always enter into a world of fantasy...a charm of beyond.' (P. Jullian, The Symbolists, Oxford, 1973, p. 49).
La bourrasque formed part of a strikingly ethereal series of portraits based upon the theme of the four seasons. The present work illustrates Autumn and became the subject matter of much experimentation during the late 1890s, resulting in a painting under this title being exhibited twice in Paris in 1896, first at the Galerie Georges Petit (no. 3) and later at the Salon (no. 1261). The present pastel is perhaps one of the artist's most strikingly beautiful examples. The girl's windswept hair falls in wisps upon her face and the vibrant, other-worldly colours instantly transport the viewer from the seasons in this world to those of another.
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