Au Flanc du Vase, 1921

by Edmond Aman-Jean

P.O.A.

DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 39.4 x 32.00 ins/ 100.0 x 78.7 cms
SIGNATURE: Signed lower centre
MEDIUM:

Edmond François Aman-Jean was a leading French painter, pastellist and lithographer of the early 20th Century. His pivotal works are his symbolist portraits, primarily those of young, beautiful, alluring women. Like many French artists of his generation, he was influenced by the new perspectives on Japanese art current in Paris in his day and, more unusually, he was interested in the Pre-Raphaelite artists in England.

Catalogue No: 4981 Categories: ,

In this sensuous painting, Aman-Jean has depicted a naked young woman amongst luscious vegetation holding a vase. Along with Georges Seurat, Aman-Jean had worked as an assistant to the Symbolist and Academic painter Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. In fact, Seurat and Aman-Jean became so close that they shared a Paris studio in 1879. Art historian Robert Herbert called Seurat’s portrait of Aman-Jean, “one of the great portrait drawings of the nineteenth century”. It was the first work Seurat showed, at the Paris Salon in 1883.  Seurat and Puvis de Chavannes’ influences are evident in this work as the artist has not created a portrait of a living woman but rather a symbolist scene: a beautiful woman within a classical setting. The addition of an urn and the abundant vines, grapes and flowers suggest that the nude woman is in fact a pleasure seeking maenad; the female followers of the Greek hedonist god of wine Dionysus and the most important members of his retinue.

In this piece, Aman-Jean worked fast as can be seen by the deep undulant brushstrokes and thick impasto to loosely depict the sitter’s fleshy body and vegetation. He also loved to paint in pastel shades, repeatedly using pinks, reds, and violets, as seen in the vibrant pinks of the flowers and purple of the grapes.

Provenance

Private Collection, France;
Private Collection, United Kingdom

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Literature

Persin, Patrick-Gilles, Aman-Jean, Peintre de la Femme (Paris: Bibliothèque des Arts, 1993), p.175

Biography

Edmond François Aman-Jean (1858 – 1936) was born in 1858 in the Seine-et-Marne region of France. He had his first art lessons with Henri Lehmann at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, where he shared a workshop with Georges Seurat, the eminent Pointillist painter. He also befriended the Symbolist painters, Alphonse Osbert and Alexandre Séon.

 

In 1886, he obtained a travelling scholarship and went to Italy, together with Henri-Jean Guillaume Martin and Ernest Laurent; studying the Old Masters. He then went on to work as an assistant to Puvis de Chavannes, helping him to realize several of his murals. In 1892, he painted a portrait of the poet, Paul Verlaine, during his convalescence for syphilis at the Hôpital Broussais in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. Verlaine dedicated a sonnet to him and they remained good friends until Verlaine’s death in 1896.

 

Aman-Jean was also one of the first to recognize Joséphin Péladan as an important artist and exhibited at one of the first showings held at the Salon de la Rose + Croix. Later, he became an important teacher in his own right; his students included Charles Sydney Hopkinson, Theodor Pallady, and Nicolae Tonitza. In 1923, together with Albert Besnard and Auguste Rodin, he helped create the Salon des Tuileries. Ten years later, he was named a Commander in the Legion of Honour.

 

In 1892, he married Thadée Jacquet, the daughter of an Imperial Prefect, who was also a painter. They had two children, François, who became a well-known writer, and Céline.

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