Kees van Dongen was a Dutch-French artist known for his vibrant paintings and prints of almond-eyed women and bourgeois leisure scenes. Some of the painter’s most famous works depict fashionable celebrities, including the French actress Brigitte Bardot. “The essential thing is to elongate the women, especially to make them slim,” he said of his models. “After that, you just need to make their jewelry bigger.”
Born Cornelis Theodorus Maria van Dongen on January 26, 1877 in Rotterdam, Netherlands, he studied at the Akademie voor Beeldende Kunsten of Rotterdam, where he created somber-toned landscapes inspired by Rembrandt. Financed by his father, the artist moved to Paris in 1897 where he frequented the bars and cabarets of Montmartre. Affiliated with the Fauvists Henri Matisse, Maurice de Vlaminck, and André Derain, Van Dongen’s use of color and expressive line became integral to his style. In 1926, the artist was inducted into the French Legion of Honor, and, in 1927, awarded the Order of the Crown of Belgium. His favorable treatment by the Nazis during their occupation of Paris during World War II, led to the artist and his work falling from grace after the war. Van Dongen died on May 28, 1968 in Monte Carlo, Monaco at the age of 91.
Today, his works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris.
– Private collection, France;
– Sale Paris, Drouot-Richelieu, J.J. Mathias, Baron Ribeyre, Ferrando Lemoine, 9 Dec 2016, lot.no. 79 (illustrated in the catalogue on page 29);
– Paris, Millon & Associés SAS, 29 March 2017, lot.no. 105 (illustrated on page 71);
– Private collection, The Netherlands.
Certificate (WPI 20654) by the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Mrs Elizabeth Gorayeb,
dd. 13 December 2019, to be included in the forthcoming digital catalogue raisonné.