A nostalgic Van Dongen and a Henri Martin at home in Marquayrol brilliantly illustrate two facets of modernism.
Kees Van Dongen (1877-1968), Calèche avenue du Bois de Boulogne, ca. 1954, oil on canvas, 54 x 65 cm.
Each painting was honoured by an appearance on a Gazette cover; both took their leave wreathed in glory. La Pergola à l'automne, Marquayrol (Pergola in Autumn, Marquayrol ) by Henri Martin (1860-1943), painted in around 1910-1920, attracted €170,016 with its magnificent glowing reds, while the carriage in the 1954 Calèche avenue du Bois de Boulogne by Kees Van Dongen (1877-1968) joined the Arc de Triomphe at a spanking €450,800. In its own way, each painting expressed one of its artist's favourite themes: Parisian elegance for the most French of all Dutchmen, and the extravagance of nature for the Toulouse-born painter. Before the Avenue du Bois-de-Boulogne was renamed Avenue Foch, it was a place where elegant women would take a walk, little girls would play with their hoops, and carriages would bowl along. Here we get a real sense of the agreeable lifestyle of bygone times: even the delicately pink air seems like a cocoon… Van Dongen established this timeless feel year after year, without the slightest hint of ageing in his style. We find a very different spirit with Henri Martin, but the final result also expresses a kind of universality: that of a nature resplendent in all its autumn glory.