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Claude-Émile Schuffenecker

Symbolist Portrait


Claude-Émile Schuffenecker
Fresne-Saint-Mamès, France, 1851 – Paris 1934


Symbolist Portrait


About 1895


Oil on paper mounted on cardboard


46.3 x 55 cm


Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 2019.93


Western Art

With its dreamlike atmosphere, this Synthetist portrait by the French painter Claude-Émile Schuffenecker is a reflection of both the Symbolist movement and Art Nouveau. Here, the harmony of blue and green, energized by the oranges and ochres of the stylized foliage, as well as the flowing lines of vaporous forms, create the impression of an evanescent luminosity. A kind of wild feline figure faces the sitter. Schuffenecker’s portraits were quite true to life, which makes it tempting to try to identify the sitter. Lost in thought, the model vaguely resembles Émile Bernard, but no more than that. He most likely was one of the people who gravitated around the Symbolist painters, poets and playwrights who were part of the Rosicrucian circle in Paris.

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