Ker- Xavier Roussel
Oil on canvas, relined 101 x 82 cm Unsigned. Label of the Venice Biennale verso on stretcher. Therein, next to the artist and title the lender mentioned with the address "A. Vollard 28 Rue Martignac Paris" and with the addition "pas à vendre".
Ker-Xavier Roussel - who has become somewhat forgotten today - had been a friend of Édouard Vuillard and Maurice Denis since they were schoolchildren. Born into a wealthy Parisian family of doctors, he studied painting at the École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian and joined the artists group of the “Nabis”. His travels led him to Italy and the south of France, together with his friends Vuillard, Bonnard and Denis. The subjects of his paintings accordingly revolved around bucolic mythological motifs, as in the case of the painting offered here, which depicts a pastoral scene: scantily dressed or even entirely nude figures, some of them wrangling with one another, are found in the rural late summer landscape. Dominated by a mighty leaf-covered tree, the idyll is set off against the deep blue sky above it, in which little woolly clouds pass by.
The important art dealer Ambroise Vollard, who owned the “Bacchanale” offered here, apparently admired the work so much that, although he did send it to Venice as a loan for the Biennale in the 1930s, he added that it was “not for sale”.
Large-format wall paintings by Ker-Xavier Roussel featuring the seasons of “Spring” and “Autumn” have been preserved at the Museum Winterthur. According to Mathias Chivot the present work is an accomplished study for the panel “L'Eté”. The painting belonged to a mural decoration by Roussel commissioned by Lucien Rosengart, the French engineer and industrialist, in 1925 and completed in 1926.
With a photo-certificate from Jacques Salomon, Paris, dated 6 July 1984
We would like to thank Mathias Chivot, Archives Vuillard, who is currently preparing the catalogue raisonné Ker-Xavier Roussel, for kind additional information. The painting will be included in the catalogue raisonné.
Ambroise Vollard, Paris; Private collection, France
Venice 193 [?], Exposition Biennale Internationale des Beaux Arts ("Bacchanale"); Paris 1947 (Galerie Charpentier), Ker-Xavier Roussel. 1867-1944, with cat. (label on stretcher)