Van Dongen

Stella in a Flowered Hat

Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)

Stella in a Flowered Hat, c.1907

Oil on canvas, 65 x 54 cm
Purchased, 1981
NGI.4355

Born in Holland, van Dongen was a member of the Fauve movement that flourished in Paris from 1905 to about 1909, and included Matisse and Vlaminck. The Fauves used vivid colours to express feelings and emotions, and the effect was shocking for their contemporaries.

Van Dongen, inspired by the example of Toulouse-Lautrec, painted the nightlife of Montmartre and other similar areas of Paris, and Stella is probably a 'demi-mondaine'. She is portrayed in the violent, dissonant colours that are the hallmark of the powerful fauve portraits of women executed by the artist between 1905 and 1910. He uses the hot, unrealistic pinks and purples to express the woman's personality and convey her seductive charm. These are balanced by the cool greens used to shade the neck and arm. Forms are flattened and simplified, and yet van Dongen seeks to create volume, and van Dongen seeks to create volume, and to raise Stella in relief from the picture surface, by adding a bold outline (along the right side) reinforced by the heavy yellow hatchings which follows the contour of her head and shoulders.

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