Lot 143
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Old Masters, Nineteenth Century & Early Modern Art | 18 May 2022
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Jan Toorop (1858-1928)

'Avant la journée de travail'

oil on canvas, 44,5x60 cm
Painted circa 1888-1890.

Learn more about this work through our expert's voice video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWlhTs_Skqo

Exhibited:
-Brussels, ‘La libre Esthétique, Salon Jubilaire', 1 March-5 April 1908, no. 188, as: ‘Le soleil durant la prière’.

Literature:
-C. Lemonnier, ‘Le siecle de Paris’, 14 March 1908.
-Phil Mertens, ‘De brieven van Toorop aan Octave Maus’, in Bulletin Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België, Vol. 18 (1969), 3/4, pp. 205-206.
-Robert Siebelhoff, ‘The early development of Jan Toorop 1879-1892’, University of Toronto 1973 (unpublished dissertation), no. P8809.
-Robert Siebelhoff, ‘Jan Toorop’s early Pointillist paintings’, in Oud Holland, Vol. 89 (1975), no. 2, ill. p. 86, no. 6.

Provenance:
-Collection Samuel Josefowitz, Lausanne; His auction, Sotheby’s, London, 15 April 1970, lot 39 (not sold).
-Auction, Sotheby Parke Bernet, London, 4 December 1975, lot 337 (Sold for: 3,800 Gbp.).
-Acquired from the above by J. Wiechers, Hoogeveen.
-Auction, Sotheby’s, London, 5 December 1984, lot 104 (Sold for: 19,250 Gbp.).
-Auction, Champin-Lombrail-Gautier, Enghien-les-Bains, 23 November 1986, lot 35 (Sold for: 560,000 Frf.).
-With Kunsthandel Albricht, Arnhem.
-Auction, Christie’s, New York, 13 May 1987, lot 254 (Sold for: 77,000 Usd.).
-With Kunsthandel Albricht, Oosterbeek.
-With Studio 2000 Art Gallery, Blaricum.
-Dutch private collection.

In 1887 Jan Toorop came eye to eye with George Seurat’s (1859-1891) masterpiece ‘Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte’ (Art Institute of Chicago). This imposing and innovative pointillist work was exhibited by Les XX in Brussels, the art society of which Toorop was a member since 1884. Only two years after seeing Seurat’s monumental painting, in February 1889, Jan Toorop exhibited fifteen works at Les XX of which approximately half of them were made in pointillist style. Consequently this new approach to painting had a big influence on Toorop.

Part of it can be regarded as Jan Toorop’s search for innovation and modernism. Yet he was also countering criticism on previously exhibited work in 1888, when the international press claimed that he was not innovative enough and held on to an outdated impressionist style. Toorop’s pointillist period was rather short and spanned circa two years, between 1888 and 1890. Few works of this period were made and even fewer remain in private collections.

This pointillist part of his oeuvre can be largely divided into two sections. On the one hand Toorop focuses on the landscape, such as in his famous paintings ‘Le maronnier’ (Dordrechts Museum), ‘Les deux saules’ (Kunstmuseum, The Hague) and ‘Omstreken van Broek in Waterland’ (Indianapolis Museum of Art). In these works the artist is often confrontational by using bright colours next to each other, creating a vivid contrast and thus depicting a landscape with large pointillistic colour fields.

On the other hand Toorop centres a more social scene, which dominates its environment, such as ‘Een sterven’ (Private collection) and ‘Au Nes, Mère et fille’ (Kunstmuseum, The Hague). The use of colour in these social paintings is much more subtle.

The present painting fits in this last category of pointillistic works with a more social character. Toorop depicts a tranquil scene in the daily life of farmers. ‘Avant la journée de travail’ is above all an atmospheric painting, where the artist explores the subtleness of light and shadow. Through the window, prominently placed in the centre of the composition, the luminous morning light enters the room. Light is key to the painting; it defines the contours of the farmers, the table and chairs, and creates the entire composition. It is the thickness and subtlety of the profound pointillism that creates its hazy atmosphere. Toorop raises this scene above the daily routine of the farmer; with its centralised composition and superb lighting the scene becomes iconic rather than ordinary. The mysterious haze already tends to a more symbolic aestheticism, a style which the artist would explore thoroughly in the 1890s.

This rare pointillist painting shows the extreme versatility of Jan Toorop; an absolute artistic genius and international icon of Dutch art.

Source:
Gerard van Wezel, ‘Jan Toorop: Zang der tijden’, The Hague/Zwolle 2016.

€ 70.000,00
€ 100.000,00
€ 68.000,00

Hamerprijs: € 68.000

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