La Baigneuse

Jean Metzinger Catalogue Raisonné

Number: AM-36-005 Jean Metzinger

Date: 1936-37

Title: La Baigneuse (Nu à Cephalonia)

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 130 x 89 cm

Inscriptions: Signed (lower right)

Provenance: Ader-Picard-Tajan, Hôtel Georges V, Paris, June 1988.

Private collection, Paris

Perrin-Royer-Lajeunesse, Versailles Enchères, 11 December 2005.

Tajan, Drouot, Paris, 8 December 2015, lot 8.

Exhibitions: Paris, Pavillon des Arts, XVeme Salon des Tuileries, 1938, catalogue n° 1397

Kunsthandel G.J. Nieuwenhuizen Segaar, The Hague, December 1938 – January 1939.

Possibly, Salon des Indépendants, Paris, 1939, no. 2052 (titled Baigneuse)

Literature: Abstracte Kunst, Schilderijen van Jean Metzinger, De Telegraaf, Amsterdam, 14 December 1938.

Maandblad Voor Beeldende Kunsten (Monthly magazine for visual arts), Zestiende Jaargang, De Bussy, Amsterdam, jrg 16, 1939, pp. 27, 28, reproduced.

Notes: In La Baigneuse Metzinger created a piece that would be timeless. The artist made little attempt to follow conventions and felt no pressure to conform to the methods or fashionable trends in art of the 1930s. He created this image drawing from nature and by using his imagination (he likely had a model pose). The artist enjoyed painting women and landscapes and here combined the two. He was inspired by nature and in his attempt to understand it painted more than surface imagery. He experimented with his desire to relate the figure to the landscape, to show the bather interacting with nature in various ways.

This voluptuous woman and the background in which she is placed fuse together forming Surrealist-like whole; the mountains blending with her hair, shoulder and thigh, the beach and Mediterranean contouring her right forearm. This monumental figure, appearing entirely classical on the surface (except perhaps for the covert sexual or carnal aspects of her pose), is partially draped with a blue and red garment, the treatment of which recalls Metzinger’s Cubist epoch. The cool blues working both in harmony and in contradistinction to the warm colors of the earth (the model possessing both). Here, Metzinger’s fascination with bilateral or mirror symmetry can be observed, albeit not as noticeably as that in Nu au Soleil or Nu aux hortensias. But like the two other paintings, La Baigneuse is a relatively large monumental work, painted in a Greek setting.

This painting, along with others of the series, deserves to be seen without the filtered preconceptions of -ism’s: for the pleasure. That is when the true quality of La Baigneuse is revealed. (Alexander Mittelmann, November 2011 – April 2012)

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