Floating nymphs by a castle
signed 'Elisabeth Sonrel.' (lower left)
black chalk, black ink, pencil and watercolour heightened with white on paper
12¼ x 19½ in. (31 x 49 cm.)
Anonymous sale; Christie's, New York, 16 February 1993, lot 278, where purchased by the present owner.
Special notice
This lot is offered without reserve.
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
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Lot Essay

Élisabeth Sonrel was the daughter of the painter Stéphane Sonrel, who was based in Tours, and who likely instigated his daughter’s initial training. At the age of seventeen, Sonrel had outgrown Tours and moved to Paris in 1891, in search of more advanced artistic training. Despite showing a flair for painting, the École des Beaux-Arts did not allow women to enrol at that time. She instead studied at one of the few private art schools, the Académie Julian, which had accepted women since 1880. There, she studied with the well-respected painter Jules Lefebvre (1836–1911), who had trained Fernand Khnopff and Félix Vallotton. Following her training, and at the young age of nineteen Sonrel exhibited at the prestigious Salon des Artistes. The artist continued to exhibit at the Salon regularly between 1893 – 1939.

Floating Nymphs by a castle, showcases Sonrel’s interest in symbolist art and mysticism, through the inclusion of non-naturalistic subject matter and colour palette, which is typical of the genre. Three nymphs glide serenely across the picture plane, with their garments flowing behind them. In the distance, Sonrel includes a medieval castle and a mountain range, which serves to draw the viewer's eye into the composition. Sonrel displays her mastery through the balance of the composition; by linking the white of the nymphs with the white flowers in the foreground, in doing so, the seemingly distinct aspects of the work become interlaced.

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