Femme au Chapeau
|English: Woman with a Hat|
|Type||Oil on canvas|
|Dimensions||44.8 cm × 36.8 cm (17.6 in × 14.5 in)|
|Location||Korban Art Foundation|
Femme au Chapeau or Woman with a Hat is an oil painting created circa 1906 by the French artist and theorist Jean Metzinger (1883–1956). The work is executed in a highly personal Divisionist style with a marked Proto-Cubist component during the height of Fauvism. Femme au Chapeau exhibits a presentiment of Metzinger's subsequent interest in the faceting of form associated with Cubism. The painting now forms part of the collection of the Korban Art Foundation.
Femme au Chapeau is an oil painting on canvas with dimensions 44.8 x 36.8 cm (17 5/8 x 14½ in.), signed J.Metzinger (lower right). The work—executed in a style consistent with other works by Metzinger created between 1905 and 1907, such as Two Nudes in an Exotic Landscape—is a portrait of an elegant women gazing self-assuredly directly at the spectator, wearing a fashionable wide-brimmed hat with a large green-bleu bow tied in a simple knot.
Metzinger's use of color in Femme au Chapeau is very closely related to the works of artist directly in his entourage known as the Fauves; quasi-pure greens, blues and violets, juxtaposed in groups far from randomly. However, the composition contains a variety of geometrized shapes, including the actual brushstrokes, that distinguish this work from the Fauves.
While the face of the sitter is treated with natural colors, the rest of the canvas appears treated with more artificial tints, tones, hues and shades. Unlike other Fauve works of the same period by Henri Matisse, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck or Kees van Dongen, Metzinger's composition is strongly Cézannian. The vertical format and background structure creates a flattening of spatial perspective, reminiscent of Cézanne's 'multiple viewpoints', his search for order, discipline and permanence. However, the brushstrokes and overall appearance are not at all Cézannian or Fauve in nature.
The art critic Louis Chassevent writing about the 1906 Salon des Indépendants used the word "cube" with reference to Jean Metzinger and Robert Delaunay, two and a half years before similar references would be made by Louis Vauxcelles to baptize the Proto-Cubist or Cubist works Pablo Picasso or Georges Braque. Recognizing the difference between Metzinger and his contemporaries Louis Chassevent wrote in 1906:
- "M. Metzinger is a mosaicist like M. Signac but he brings more precision to the cutting of his cubes of color which appear to have been made mechanically." (Robert Herbert, 1968, Neo-Impressionism, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)
The following year Metzinger and Delaunay shared an exhibition at Berthe Weill's gallery (1907). They were singled out by Louis Vauxcelles as Divisionists who used large, mosaic-like 'cubes' to construct small but highly symbolic compositions.
One and a half years later, November 1908, Vauxcelles, in his brief review of Georges Braque's exhibition at Kanhweiler's gallery, called Braque a daring man who despises form, "reducing everything, places and a figures and houses, to geometric schemas, to cubes.
In 1905, Matisse, Metzinger and Delaunay experimented with the technique of Divisionism, elaborating on the Neo-Impressionist principles of Georges Seurat, Henri-Edmond Cross and Paul Signac. The small pointillist dots had become rectangular brushstrokes of pre-mixed color, resembling the tesserae of a Byzantine mosaics. The paintings of Signac and Cross had been evolving along similar lines. Matisse spent the summer of 1904 in Saint-Tropez, working in close touch with both Signac and Cross. Matisse went on to paint his first fauve canvases with Derain in Collioure the following year.
Metzinger's Femme au Chapeau, though owing much to the example of Signac and Cross, took his Divisionist technique a step further, increasing the size of his cubes of color, and without pushing his version of Divisionism toward a purely Fauve style. Metzinger's strong interest mathematics and geometry, unlike the Fauves, introduced the appearance of order, symmetries and the structured faceting of form into his work. These qualities, evident in Femme au Chapeau, are very different from Matisse's famous version of a similar subject. Metzinger has clearly demarcated the boundaries of each area of color area, similar to the Synthetist practice of Paul Sérusier and Paul Gauguin, lending the picture a solidly structures crystalline design. There is present in Femme au Chapeau a presentiment of Metzinger's subsequent interest in the faceting of form associated with the development of Cubism.
Metzinger explained his pictorial ideas to the American writer Gelett Burgess in late 1908 or early 1909:
- "Instead of copying nature...we create a milieu of our own wherein our sentiment can work itself out through a juxtaposition of colors. It is hard to explain it, but it may perhaps be illustrated by analogy with literature and music... Music does not attempt to imitate nature's sounds, but it does interpret and embody emotions awakened by nature through a convention of its own, in a way to be aesthetically pleasing. In some such way, we, taking our hint from Nature, construct decoratively pleasing harmonies and symphonies of color expressive of our sentiment" (quoted in G. Burgess, "Wild Men of Paris," Architectural Record, May 1910, p. 413).
Christie's writes of Metzinger's Femme au chapeau in their Lot Notes:
"The firmly drawn construction of Metzinger's pictorial design superimposes hardness and solidity on every part of the artist's subject, and the background as well, in Femme au chapeau. This is an intended effect, which Metzinger contrasts by rendering these forms in a divisionist technique, which softens and refines the overall impact of the picture. Metzinger stated, "I ask of divided brushwork not the objective rendering of light, but irridescences and certain aspects of color still foreign to painting. I make a kind of chromatic versification, and for syllables, I use strokes which, variable in quality, cannot differ in dimension without modifying the rhythm of a picture phraseology destined to translate the diverse emotions aroused by nature" (quoted in R. Herbert, Neo-Impressionism, exh. cat., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1968, p. 221).
Following his youthful foray into divisionism, Metzinger turned briefly to a robust, Gauguinesque manner in rendering the figure, using strong outlines and flat areas of color. Then, in 1910, he became involved in the early development of Cubism, a decision that shaped his mature style. Burgess in his article did not hide a preference for Metzinger's paintings of 1907-1909: "Metzinger once did gorgeous mosaics of pure pigment, each little square of pigment not quite touching the next, so that an effect of vibrant light should result. He painted exquisite compositions of cloud and cliff and sea; he painted women and made them fair" (op. cit.).
- Galerie Zak, Paris.
- Frank Perls Gallery, Bevery Hills.
- Acquired from the above by Mr. and Mrs. Sidney F. Brody, 20 September 1955.
- Sale: Christie's, New York, Rockefeller Plaza, 4 May 2010, Lot 27. Estimate $800,000 - $1,200,000. Sold $1,650,500
Leo Gestel, c.1904-06, Portrait of an elegant lady with a hat, oil on canvas, 73.5 x 50 cm
Félix Vallotton, Woman with a Black Hat
Vincent van Gogh, Young Peasant Woman with Straw Hat
Kees van Dongen, 1906, La femme au grand chapeau (Woman with large hat)
- Joann Moser, 1985, Jean Metzinger in Retrospect, Pre-Cubist Works, 1904-1909, The University of Iowa Museum of Art, J. Paul Getty Trust, University of Washington Press, pp. 34, 35
- Robert L. Herbert, 1968, Neo-Impressionism, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York
- Daniel Robbins, Jean Metzinger: At the Center of Cubism, 1985, Jean Metzinger in Retrospect, The University of Iowa Museum of Art, J. Paul Getty Trust, University of Washington Press, pp. 9-23
- Louis Chassevent, 22e Salon des Indépendants, 1906, Quelques petits salons, Paris, 1908, p. 32
- Daniel Robbins, 1964, Albert Gleizes 1881 – 1953, A Retrospective Exhibition, Published by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, in collaboration with Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund
- Art of the 20th Century
- Alex Danchev, Georges Braques: A Life, Arcade Publishing, 15 nov. 2005
- Christie's, New York, Rockefeller Plaza, 4 May 2010, Lot 27
- Jean Metzinger: Divisionism, Cubism, Neoclassicism and Post Cubism
- Culture.gouv.fr, le site du Ministère de la culture - base Mémoire
- Culture.gouv.fr, Base Mémoire, La Médiathèque de l'architecture et du patrimoine, works 1-50 of 144
- Agence Photographique de la Réunion des musées nationaux et du Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées, page 2 of 4