Ivan Mestrovic's lyrical piece

On 16 July 2019, by Philippe Dufour

Venerated in his country and recognised the world over, this great 20th-century Croatian sculptor is rarely presented in France. We wager that with this high-relief attributed to him, he will find a well-deserved place in collectors' hearts.

Attributed to Ivan Mestrovic (1883-1962), Woman with Harp, panel carved in high relief, 170 x 55 cm.
Estimate: €25,000/30,000

The female figure with half-closed eyes, seemingly spellbound by the sounds of her harp, echoes the Symbolist aesthetic, further emphasised by the "S"-shaped silhouette with its curves and counter-curves. Yet as its assumed creator Ivan Mestrovic, one of Croatia's great modern sculptors, conceived it in around 1932, it falls more in line with his return to the antique at this point in the decade. While this monoxylous high-relief (i.e. shaped from a single piece of thick wood) with its powerful direct carving bears no signature, two extant replicas place it firmly in the artist's output. One identical Woman with Harp, this time in white marble, can be admired in the Ionic portico of the Mestrovic gallery in Split, Croatia – a museum dedicated to the artist, set up in the magnificent villa he had built before the last war. Another copy of the work can be found in the Musée National d'Art Moderne in the Centre Georges-Pompidou, with the inventory number "JP 87 S". This version is a large relief in bronze, bought directly from the artist by the French State between 2013 and 2015, and presented in the new hang of the MNAM's collections entitled "Modernités plurielles" ("Multiple Modernities"). Like the specialist Marc Lallement, we might wonder whether the panel here was a preparatory work for these two listed pieces.

Vuillard's simple things

On 17 July 2019, by Caroline Legrand

Delicate anemones tell of a transition period in the work of the Nabi master, halfway between decorative subject and a yen for light.

Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940), Anémones (Anemones), 1907, glue-based paint on card, mounted on cradled panel, 56.8 x 57.2 cm.
Estimate: €60,000/70,000

The 1900s saw an obvious change in the work of Édouard Vuillard, with light and colour playing an even more intense and lively role. Was it the influence of his new life with Lucie Hessel, the wife of his dealer and friend, to whom he dedicated some magnificent pieces? Whatever the reason, as he approached forty his painting was influenced by Monet's Impressionism. During those years, he painted L'Allée (The Alley), a large work (230 x 164 cm) now in the Musée d'Orsay. This 1907 painting mounted on panel features a delicate bouquet of anemones on a barely outlined piece of furniture, where the whole scene is inundated with light. A constant feature with Vuillard was his use of glue-based paint, a technique generally used for stage sets which he adapted to easel painting. Another asset is its history: presented three times at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1949, 1968 and 1990-1991, the work was bought directly from Vuillard by Jos Hessel.

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