Paul Delvaux (Belgian, 1897-1994)
Portrait of Two Women Embracing
Signed and dated "P. DELVAUX/1945" in pencil l.r., watermark c.l.
Graphite and ink on Antique de Luxe laid paper, sheet size 8 1/4 x 6 3/4 in. (15.9 x 17.1 cm), framed.
Condition: Slight toning, paper tape hinged to backing mat.
Provenance: Gift from the artist to the present owner, c. 1946.
N.B. The present work is characteristic of Delvaux's female nude studies, where he explores the relationship between the idealized female body and naturalistic representation. The work echoes Gustave Courbet's Le Sommeil (1866), but without the languorous surrender. The alert gaze directed at the viewer and the ambiguous indoor-outdoor background decontextualizes it from an academic "odalisque," and creates a tension over the propriety of the scene for the spectator.
His works have been said to both "entice and demystify, allowing the viewer the fullest sensual and emotional satisfaction the visual image can offer, yet alerting him or her to the artificiality, even absurdity, of the principles that produce such pleasure." (1)
1. Scott, David, Paul Delvaux: Surrealizing the Nude, London: Reaktion Books, 1992, p. 13.
Subtle acid burn to the reverse, small stain to u.l. quadrant approx. 1/8 x 1/4 in., paper tape hinged along top edge of sheet to backing mat.