Jeune fille, ca. 1901
Oil on canvas, 44 x 34 cm
Signed in full, upper right 'Emile Claus'
Verso with old label for transport
to Paris and provenance Mme Claus,
accompanied by unidentified wax stamp
Ancienne collection Madame Emile Claus (Charlotte Du Faux)
Acquired from the above, ca. 1939
Private collection, Belgium
© Cedric Verhelst
Click image to enlarge
Retrospective Emile Claus, Salon de Paris, 1927.
Cataloged as n° 1252, "Jeune Paysanne", and submitted by Mme Charlotte Claus, widow of the artist.
RELATED WORKS :
The present portrait of a young girl counts amongst the purest examples of Emile Claus's emblematic style. The painting belonged to the collection of the artist and his wife, and was held on to by Madame Emile Claus after his death. Research suggests that the painting was lend by the artist's wife Charlotte Du Faux-Claus to the retrospective organised in honour of the artist on the Paris Salon in 1927, where it was catalogued as "Jeune Paysanne". Upon consultation, Johan De Smet, expert on the artist and senior curator affiliated with the Museum of Fine Arts of Ghent, stated: "In the oeuvre of Claus the present painting is an early example, from around 1900, in which the artist isolated figures from the landscape. Thus, elevating these simple and anonymous, rural girls to bust portraits." The present painting is as such considered to be one of the first female portraits in close-up Claus made, and is to be dated right after the turn of the century.
THE BOLDNESS OF THE BACKGROUND IS REMINISCENT OF THE WORKS OF AUGUSTE RENOIR AND
THE HARSH SUNLIGHT IS EMBLEMATIC OF THE HEIGHT OF THE ARTIST'S CAREER.
In the young girl's poignant features we recognise the influence of neo-impressionist or pointilliste painting, softened and dispersed by a highly personal synthesis of the European avant-garde of the day. It is strongly believed that the young girl depicted in this work, is the same girl as the subject depicted in "The daughter of the gardener" (1908), held in the Museum van Deinze en de Leiestreek. Painted some seven years later, we now see her grown, but continuing to move the artist with her bright blue eyes and her glowing cheeks.