s Ancient and nineteenth century masters department will dedicate the 26th September 2017 auction to the Symbolist movement, rarely presented on the market. Entitled In Praise of symbolism, it will include 130 works, 80 of which originate from a private Italian collection. This important collection gathers together 30 years of acquisitions from all over the world, including the greatest names of the symbolism movement: Carlos Schwabe, Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, Odilon Redon, Alphonse Osbert, Maurice Chabas, Armand Point, Henri Martin, Gustav Adolf Mossa, Pierre-Amédée Marcel-Beronneau, Jean Delville and Henry De Groux ...
In the foreword of the catalogue, Jean-David Jumeau-Lafond, art historian specialising in the Symbolist movement, defines the movement as « questioning the world», born in context with the incertitude and great metamorphosis of the end of the 19th century, «faced with materialism and the extraordinary advances in science, mankind, this ever-seeking creature, was left to its own devices; it attempts to reconnect with the greater mysteries of the soul and the universe». A quest that will play through an individualistic approach and find resolve in a singular manner, particularly with the rediscovery of the vast field of imaginary and dream.
The auction, directed by Matthieu Fournier, Artcurial associate director, bears witness to the diversity of the gathered creations, grouped under the common denominator of Symbolism, a style with as many forms as it has artists.
30 years of symbolist movement collection
The auction is organised around an important private collection. Composed of 80 paintings, it gathers together both French and Belgium artists.
Odilon Redon (1840-1916) is represented with an ink and aquarelle wash, Les yeux clos, 26,50 x 19 cm, from the artists studio. (est. 20,000 25,000 / $22,000 27,500).
Closed eyes in many forms are a recurrent theme throughout Redons work. Images of an internal gaze or of an impenetrable universe, the face without eyes is here somewhat linked to an architectural vision.
Néméa, large canvas by Maurice Chabas (1862-1947) signed and dated 1894, 107,90 x 63,50 cm, carries an estimate of 15,000 20,000/ $17,500 22,000. Daughter of the river god Asope, Nemea gave her name to a forest which was home to a sanctuary to Zeus in Corinth. Maurice Chabas depicts his heroin as a mysterious wood nymph. The chromatic subtlety and the regular disposal of the sacred forests tree trunks admired by women whose back are turned to the viewer in the background are evocative of works by Puvis de Chavannes and Nabis. Particular care has been given to this painting exhibited at least five times between 1894 and 1897, a particular quality in Chabas Rosicrucian period.
In the following painting, Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer (1865-1953, a great member of the Symbolist movement illustrates the allegory La Justice, in pastel, sanguine and white chalk, 71,50 x 56,60 cm, in a full rejection of academia. (est. 12,000 15,000/ $13,200 17,500). The association of the figure holding the scale and a book (representing the strength of Law instead of the traditional sword of justice) in the rising sun bestows to the piece true signification, that of a declaration of faith in the context of the Dreyfus scandal. The monochromic tone of the work as a kind of patchwork enables the work to be dated to the very beginning of the twentieth century, probably in 1906; this is precisely the year of the definitive rehabilitation of the Captain, after more than a decade of unrest. Dawn, frequently used at the time as a political and socialogical symbol, confirms the meaning of a Humanist claim given by Lévy-Dhurmer to this highly monumental drawing.
The work of Victor Brugairolles (1869-1936), Le berger et la mer, created in 1898, 130 x 196 cm (est. 30,000 40,000 / $33,000 44,000) was exhibited at the Salon des Artistes français in 1900 as this title. The artist drew inspiration from the Fables de La Fontaine. The poet tells the story of a shepherds misfortunes, who entrusted all his worldly goods to the sea, losing everything during a storm. Once again a simple shepherd, he refuses to succumb again to the seas seduction. This is an allusion to the dangers of commerce and the Compagnie des Indes propaganda, which disappeared in 1672.
The large pastel Etude pour Les Kumaras by Belgian artist Jean Delville (1867-1953) is hard to date (est. 50,000 70,000/ $55,000 77,000). The Kumaras are the first children of Brahma in Hindou mythology; they are counted among the most important figures retained by the end of the 19th century theosophists. A fervent adept, Delville
The artist synthesizes the fable in a fairly elliptical manner, characteristic of the symbolist aesthetic. The quality of the drawing, attenuated and subtle chromatics and a very well balanced composition all evoke the art of Puvis de Chavannes. From a fable to a specific message, the painter draws a more lyrical than judgmental work, with great poetry.
was as sensitive to the poetry of the theosophical universe as to its mysticism. These pure, immortal children singing mantras inspired him to draw a celestial, hieratic representation with an evident reference to a revisited Hindou art but where we find yet again the flame-shaped composition so dear to the artist and the usual features of his Spiritualist art: sinuosity and idea of Cosmic Synthesis.
Henry de Groux (1867-1930), also from Belgium, creates the painting La mort de Siegfried in 1899. A passionate Wagner enthusiast, he was especially drawn to Siegfried. More than a simple illustration of an operatic episode, the painter dramatized Siegfrieds death. De Groux seeks to express the heros desperation, driven by a wave of hatred that embodies the violent chromaticism and turbulent composition. This large painting, 121 x 150,50 cm, carries an estimate of 35,000 45,000 / $38,500 49,500. It has been published several times.
Belgium is also represented through the works of Armand Rassenfosse, Emile Fabry and Félicien Rops.
Another fifty works complete this collection. Amongst them, two pastels by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer (1865 -1953), a technique with which the artist excels: L'Automne dated from 1896 (est.50,000 70,000 / $55,000 77,000) and Femme dans la brume surplombant les montagnes (est. 20,000 30,000/ $22,000 33,000). From Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, La bourrasque by Jeanne Soyer (1879- 1967), a wonderful little enamelled plaque carries an estimate of 6,000-8,000 / $6,600 8,800.