Van Dongen, Dutch-born but a naturalized Frenchman, became known as one of the outrageous Fauve painters, but in his work the Fauve riot of colour had little to do with the countryside: instead he focused on the bohemian city life. As a portraitist of the elegant and the shady sides of urban life, he soon became famous. During the post-war period, aristocrats and muses of all sorts flocked to his studio to be painted by the tireless artist, who now displayed a less strident palette and at times a certain cynicism: “The basic rule is to make the women longer and above all thinner. After that, one has only to make the jewellery bigger. And they love it.” Who is this woman lounging in the corner of a sofa, wearing a fur stole that reveals the flawless cut of her dress? This is one of the many models who kept low company in what Van Dongen called “the cocktail era.” The androgynous haircut and the flowing line of the fabric are characteristic of the free-spirited style of the Roaring Twenties.
© Estate of Kees Van Dongen / SOCAN (2020)