Georges Seurat - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Wednesday, November 14, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    The Artist
    Victor Joze, Paris (likely offered by the Artist's family in 1891)
    Félix Fénéon, Paris (acquired in 1926)
    Baron Robert von Hirsch, Bâle (acquired in 1958)
    Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co., London, June 27, 1978, lot 848
    Galerie Tarica, Paris (acquired at the above sale)
    Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé (acquired from the above in September 1985)
    Christie's, Paris, Collection Yves Saint Laurent et Pierre Bergé, Paris, February 23, 2009, lot 6
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Les dessins de Georges Seurat, November 29 - December 24, 1926, no. 97, n.p. (illustrated)
    Paris, Galerie Paul Rosenberg, Seurat, February 3 - 29, 1936, no. 127, n.p.
    Paris, Galerie nationales du Grand Palais; New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Seurat, April 9, 1991- January 12, 1992, no. 213, p.383 (illustrated)

  • Literature

    Victor Joze, L'Homme à femmes, Paris, 1890 (illustrated, front cover)
    Georges Lecomte, "La Ménagerie Sociale de M. Victor Joze: Une couverture de M. Seurat", Art et critique, February 1890, p. 87
    Bernheim-Jeune, ed., “Précisions concernant Seurat”, Le Bulletin de la Vie Artistique, Paris, no. 16, August 15, 1924, p. 360 (illustrated)
    Gustave Coquiot, Seurat, Paris, 1924, p. 111
    Gustave Kahn, Les dessins de Georges Seurat, Paris, 1928, pl. 81 (illustrated)
    Robert Rey, La peinture française à la fin du XIXe siècle: La renaissance du sentiment classique: Degas – Renoir – Gauguin – Cézanne - Seurat, Paris, 1931, pp. 140-141
    Robert L. Herbert, "Seurat and Jules Chéret", The Art Bulletin, vol. 40, no. 2, June 1958, fig. 6, p. 158 (illustrated)
    Henri Dorra and John Rewald, Seurat, Paris, 1959, no. 196a, p. 250 (illustrated)
    C.M. de Hauke, Seurat et son oeuvre, Paris, 1961, vol. II, no. 695, pp. 286-87 (illustrated, p. 287)
    Robert L. Herbert, Seurat's Drawings, New York, 1962, fig. 133, pp. 153-54 (illustrated, p. 154)
    Gustave Kahn, The Drawings of Georges Seurat, New York, 1971, no. 101, p. xvii (illustrated)
    Georges Seurat: The Drawings, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2007, fig. 11, pp. 178-79 (illustrated, p. 179)
    Michelle Foa, Georges Seurat: The Art of Vision, New York and London, 2015, fig. 92, pp. 111, 145-46 (illustrated, p. 146)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Executed in 1890, George Seurat’s L'Homme à femmes was created as the cover illustration for novelist Victor Joze’s book by the same title. Joze’s roman à clef novel belonged to his La Ménagerie sociale series, a playful collection of stories about human behavior, drawing on characters from contemporary society. In the novel L'Homme à femmes, one of the two main characters, an impressionist painter working on a picture of the chahut, is likely modelled after Seurat. Other characters in the book include Edouard Normand, who is evidently Edouard Dujardin, former editor of Revue indépendante, and critic Paul Alexis, a real-life acquaintance of Seurat whom the artist also painted.

    The discernible characters in Joze’s novel and the numerous collaborations between artists and authors at this time offer an interesting window into the French avant-garde art scene of the late 19th century. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, in fact, also created a number of illustrations announcing Joze’s works, including Reine de Joie, 1892, Babylon d’Allemagne, 1894, and Tribu d’Isidore, 1897. His only foray into illustration of this nature, Seurat was likely influenced by Jules Chéret’s poster L’Amant des Danseuses, 1888 for the cover of a novel by Félicien Champsaur, in which a similarly outfitted solitary male figure is also surrounded by a group of animated women.

    In 1886, Seurat turned to the pleasure-seeking middle class of Paris as his main subject, often depicting scenes set in cafés or circuses. The women in L'Homme à femmes, with exaggerated features and smirking expressions, are near parodies of the artist’s other drawings of the café-concert singer, evidencing the artist’s delight in this caricatural style of draughtsmanship. The overall upward tendency of the dashed lines forming the composition in L'Homme à femmes further supports the light-hearted, jesting nature of the work and showcases Seurat’s superb and nuanced handling of line, form and shadow in his drawings. An equally charming oil painting of this subject executed in pointillist dream-like pastel colors is housed in The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, though it was ultimately the present drawing that was used as the cover for Joze’s novel. L'Homme à femmes was previously in the collection of Victor Joze himself and later belonged to Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, adding further nuance to the fascinating story behind this exquisite work.

Property from an Important Private Collection


L'Homme à femmes

signed "Seurat" lower left
ink drawing on calque paper
10 1/8 x 6 1/2 in. (25.6 x 16.5 cm.)
Executed in 1890.

We are grateful to Galerie Brame & Lorenceau for confirming the authenticity of this work.

$350,000 - 450,000 

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 14 November 2018