Another Painting by Carolus Duran for the Lille Museum

Carolus Duran (1837-1917)
Portrait of a Red-Haired Woman, 1876
Oil on Canvas - 56 x 46 cm
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille

12/01/12 - Acquisitions - Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts - The Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille has acquired a beautiful portrait of a woman by Carolus Duran, which had come up for auction on 21 February 2010 at Mercier & Cie., estimated at between 8,000 and 12,000 €. A native of this city, the artist is well represented in the collections and, in fact, had been featured in an exhibition at the museum in 2003 [1] (see article in French).
This young woman is probably Lilia, found in other works, notably in a study from 1887 (Washington, National Gallery of Art) and especially in the painting Lilia (1889, deposit of the Musée d’Orsay at Privas) acclaimed during its exhibition in 1890 at the Cercle de l’union artistique. She also posed as the model for Danaë (1891, Bordeaux, Musée des Beaux-Arts) and other (more or less) historical compositions.

Many artists of this period were inspired by red-haired muses, Jean-Jacques Henner of course, who also did a portrait of Carolus, Gustave Courbet as well (and whose realism influenced the Lille painter at the outset of his career), the former depicting for example Joanna Hifferman in La belle Irlandaise. (Portrait of Jo) (1866).
This new painting acquired by Lille is particularly attractive for its rapid brush strokes and the vivid colors used, with the warmth of the russet and the red enhanced by the ocean blue background ; the model’s expression is intriguing, her thoughtful look, framed by the loose hair imparting an air of a penitent Mary Magdalene. This painting, just like the family likenesses, is more spontaneous than the society portraits which made Carolus Duran famous and a rival of Léon Bonnat.
The painter studied Velazquez thoroughly and admired his ability to stand aside in order to capture the model’s most intimate self. Carolus Duran himself wrote that : "most portraitists only showed the visible part of the person. If we study the masters whom we consider to be the first in this genre, we can see that they did not content themselves with a material appearance, and that achieving an abstraction of the self, they searched for the particular character of the model they were rendering, in his spirit, his temperament, his atmosphere as well as in his personal aspect." (see article in French).

Version française

Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, lundi 16 janvier 2012


[1] The Museum in Saintes had presented an exhibition of his children’s portraits (see article in French) that same year.

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