JEAN-LOUIS FORAIN (1852-1931)

Lot 19
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16 000 - 20 000 EUR
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Result : 19 770 EUR

JEAN-LOUIS FORAIN (1852-1931)

Les coulisses du ballet, 1905
Oil on canvas, signed and dated lower left
55,5 x 65,5 cm - 21 7/8 x 25 13/16 in.

Nous remercions Florence Valdès-Forain d'avoir aimablement confirmé l'authenticité de cette oeuvre. Un certificat pourra être remis à l'acquéreur, à sa demande et à ses frais.
PROVENANCE Collection privée, Paris

JEAN-LOUIS FORAIN
Jean-Louis Forain was born in Reims in 1852 and died in Paris in 1931. Not only a painter but also a fine draughtsman and caricaturist (nicknamed «Gavroche» by Rimbaud and Verlaine), he was a close friend of Degas', and became an iconic figure of the Parisian Belle Epoque.
Through Manet and Degas, he discovered the world of opera and ballet: a subject that rapidly obsessed the artist.
This work brilliantly illustrates Forain's skill in capturing the habits of dancers and regular members of the ballet audience. Here, far from the footlights, slender, graceful young dancers in costume greet a man in a black coat and top hat. 
The contrast of the young women's white flesh and soft pink outfits with the hardness of their faces, the dark setting and the man's austere clothing makes his appearance even more disturbing.
Away from the stage, these anonymous dancers became symbols of Parisian social and artistic life at the end of the century, and thus a topos of Impressionist painting. The artist's rapid work and technique and the flat colours all express the sensations and twists in the bodies perfectly.
In 1903, when Degas saw one of Forain's dancers, he acclaimed the artist's virtuosity humorously, saying «This young man is standing on our own two feet».
Forain participated in four of the eight Impressionist exhibitions between 1879 and 1886. His talent was acknowledged by all his peers, and by the market itself. From 1886 onwards, he was represented by Durand-Ruel, the Impressionists' leading dealer, who exhibited his works in New York alongside those of Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, Degas and Manet. This was a real apotheosis for the Parisian artist with his mordant, satirical wit.
 
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