In the privacy of Maurice Denis’s home

On 11 June 2019, by Agathe Albi-Gervy

The Swiss auction house is offering a group of works by Arp, Poliakoff, Delaunay, Fontana and Zao Wou-ki, which come from Maurice Denis's family. A remarkable pedigree that also stands out for this intimate painting by the artist.

Maurice Denis (1870-1943), La Première Tétée or La Chambre violette (The First Feed or Purple Room), 1906, oil on card mounted on canvas, 89.5 x 60.5 cm.
Estimate: CHF400,000/600,000 (ca. €358,000/537,000)

This rare and moving picture captures the first minutes in the life of the painter's fourth daughter, born on 2 May 1906 in the bedroom of the family apartment at 59 rue de Mareil, Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Through the window behind we can see the Priory, to which Maurice Denis moved in 1915 (a vibrant place open to all the artists in his circle, which became the Musée départemental Maurice-Denis in 1976). This highly intimate painting was sold in 1907 by the Druet gallery in Paris, subsequently entering various private collections before going to auction at Drouot in 1939. There, the artist himself bought it back and gave it to his third daughter, Anne-Marie, who kept it in Switzerland, where it has passed down through her family until now. She is seen here, aged five, straining on tiptoe at the foot of the bed to see her new little sister. Later a poet and writer, in 1922 Anne-Marie married the glass painter Marcel Poncet, whom her father had known for several years. An admirer of Poncet's art and technique, he even asked him to assist with the stained glass for his chapel at the Priory in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. When the couple moved to Switzerland between Vichy and Lausanne, Maurice Denis went to see them regularly, using the opportunity to carry out several commissions for Geneva, including the stained-glass windows for the basilica of Notre-Dame: a project that reflected the profound faith of this ardent Catholic. For the man who had considered becoming an artist monk, religion was at the heart of his work, in his many Biblical scenes and in paintings glorifying the beauties of creation and family life, as in this First Feed.

Wednesday 19 June 2019 - 10:30, 14:00, 16:00
Bâle - Schwarzwaldallee, 171 - CH-4058
Beurret & Bailly
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