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Jean Paul Lemieux
L'automne 2010 - 1ère séance Vente en salle

Lot # 018

Jean Paul Lemieux
CC QMG RCA 1904 - 1990 Canadian

La dame au bouquet
oil on canvas circa 1975
26 x 32 pouces  66 x 81.3cm

Acquired directly from the Artist by the present
Private Collection, Quebec

Here is a charming painting by Jean Paul Lemieux, painted with looser brushwork than he used in the sixties. One is reminded of the famous Edgar Degas painting, apparently wrongly titled La Femme aux chrysanthèmes, 1865, which is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The compositions are the same, but in reverse. In Degas’s painting, the woman is on the right and looks out of the picture plane in that same direction. In Lemieux’s picture, the woman is on the left and looks outside of the picture plane in that direction. Both women touch their face with their hands. And of course, in both paintings the enormous bouquet of flowers occupies the entire center of the painting. Degas’s image suggests that his woman was resting after having poured water into the huge bouquet – one sees the pitcher half full of water. Of this detail, only a small blue saucer is left in the Lemieux painting.

One could be surprised, if not annoyed, by these reminiscences of one painter from another – as if it denoted a lack of originality – but on the contrary, this should be seen as the need of the Canadian painter to belong to a tradition. Painting is always in dialogue with other paintings. Nothing is more suspect than the claim of absolute singularity. There is a fascinating study to be made in the paintings of Lemieux of this kind of rapport with tradition, especially in the representation of the figure. It is not always as evident as here, but masters of the Renaissance, just as much as other contemporary painters, were a source of inspiration for him even when the subject matter was typically “québécois”. Lemieux always aspired to universality and wanted his figures, in particular, to have a presence beyond the anecdotal. The discrete homage to Degas here certainly works in that way. La dame au bouquet could be of many countries, of many epochs and of many classes. We are left with the mystery of her thoughts…..unless she is thinking of a certain Degas painting, seen at the Met in New York!

It is also typical of Lemieux in the seventies to have expressed emotion in his figures. In the sixties, they are habitually expressionless, standing in front of an empty landscape, reduced to a pure presence. In the seventies, they begin to express something, as here – some inner pleasant thoughts or the pleasure in being alive. The bouquet echoes this feeling and makes the canvas a happy composition, notable for a painter who had the reputation of being, if not sombre, then at least earnest and grave. Indeed, over time Lemieux would become more political. His last paintings denounced war, or the destruction of the planet. La dame au bouquet is certainly a lovely interlude before that.

We thank François-Marc Gagnon of the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute of Studies in Canadian Art, Concordia University, for contributing the above essay.

Estimation: 150,000 $ ~ 180,000 $ CAN

S'est vendu pour: 175,500.00 $ CAN (prime d'achat incluse)

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