KEES VAN DONGENDutch 1877 - 1968

Provenance:
(Sale) Sotheby's London, Impressionist & Modern Art Part II, 25th June 1997, lot 304;
Private collection

KEES VAN DONGENDutch 1877 - 1968

Born in Delfshaven, Rotterdam, Kees van Dongen studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts there (1892–97), also frequenting the Red Quarter seaport area, where he drew scenes of sailors and prostitutes. Thereafter he lived in Paris for several months, returning again in December 1899. His artistic break-through came with his participation in the 1905 Salon d'Automne alongside the Fauves (the ‘wild beasts’), Henri Matisse, André Derain, Albert Marquet and Maurice de Vlaminck. In 1906 van Dongen moved to lodgings in the Bateau Lavoir at 13 rue Ravignan in Montmartre, where he befriended Picasso and his circle. In addition to selling his paintings, van Dongen also gained an income by selling satirical sketches to the newspaper Revue Blanche. He also organised very successful costume balls, to which people paid admission, to gain extra income. Van Dongen was briefly a member of the German Expressionist group Die Brücke.

After the First World War, under the influence of fashion director Lea Alvin (Jasmy Jacob), van Dongen further developed the lush colours of his Fauvist style. This earned him a solid reputation with the French bourgeoisie and upper classes, where he was in demand for his portraits. His commissions included Louis Barthou, Sacha Guitry, Leopold III of Belgium, Anna de Noailles and Maurice Chevalier.