La bourrasque
signed and dated 'Lévy-Dhurmer/97' (lower left)
pastel on paper
15 x 17 3/8 in. (38 x 44 cm.)
Executed in 1897.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 17 November 2005, lot 66, where purchased by the present owner.
Special notice
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

Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, 'The Dream Painter', was one of the leading painters of the Symbolist ideal at the turn of the century.

Many of the Symbolist painters strove to represent their preference for the supernatural over the divine, painting fairy-like figures and chimeras in the case of Gustave Moreau and Khnopff, or sirens in the case of Ary Renan. All of these were fantastical creatures with a certain malevolence, symbolising at times, evil. Portraits became the main form of representation for these types of work and became a genre in which the Symbolists excelled. As Philippe Jullian stated '...Some are young gentle girls, but at times they could be quite disturbing like the models of Khnopff and of Lévy-Dhurmer, or quite simply wrapped in thought like those of Armand Point and Aman-Jean; ...the foliage like tapestry, the rocks like Leonardo, the indistinctly patterned materials, set these portraits apart from everyday existence. Others, like apparitions....are endowed with magical properties. ...The woman must always enter into a world of fantasy...a charm of beyond.' (P. Jullian, The Symbolists, Oxford, 1973, p. 49).

La bourrasque, which translates as 'The squall', formed part of a strikingly ethereal series of portraits based upon the theme of the four seasons. The present work illustrates autumn and became the subject matter of much experimentation during the late 1890s, resulting in a painting under this title being exhibited twice in Paris in 1896, first at the Galerie Georges Petit (no. 3) and later at the Salon (no. 1261). The present pastel is perhaps one of the artist's most strikingly beautiful examples. The girl's windswept hair falls in wisps upon her face and the vibrant, other-worldly colours instantly transport the viewer from the seasons in this world to those of another.

We are grateful to Jean-David Jumeau-Lafond for his assistance in cataloguing the present lot. A certificate from Jean-David Jumeau-Lafond dated 15 June 2022 accompanies this lot.

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