Luxuriously composed and infused with warm light, this composition is the work of the French Naturalist painter Jean-André Rixens. Entitled Jeune Femme Nue se Coiffant (Young Nude Styling her Hair), the intimate scene recalls the sensuous subjects of Rixens' contemporary, Edouard Manet, in both its subject and its expressive style.
The work is loosely based on Émile Zola's famed character Nana, a young red-headed courtesan first introduced in his 1876 serial novel L'Assommoir, and later developed in the eponymous novel Nana of 1800. A well-known icon of French popular culture, Nana was perhaps most famously represented at her vanity by Manet in 1877, a work which now hangs in the Kunsthalle Hamburg. Deemed too lewd for public consumption, Manet's Nana was rejected by the Paris Salon of 1877, though today it is considered among his masterpiece.
The present work by Rixens unequivocally references the work of his predecessor. His subject, possessing the same milky white skin and red tresses as Manet's Nana, is imbued with an inherent sensuality. Her surroundings are a feast for the senses, from the silky satin dress discarded beside her to the plush fur carpet at her feet. Each detail is masterfully captured by Rixens, who appropriately followed in the footsteps of Zola's groundbreaking naturalistic style.
Born in 1846, Jean-André Rixens made his Salon debut in 1876. He earned numerous medals from the Salon during his lifetime, as well as a Gold Medal at the Exposition Universelle in 1889. A muralist as well as a painter, he is perhaps most well-known for his decoration of the Capitole de Toulouse (Salle des Illustres) and of the Hôtel de ville de Paris (Salon des Sciences). By 1900, he was made a Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur and a Member of the National Fine Art Society, and today his works can be found in museums throughout France, including the Musée des Augustins (Toulouse).
Canvas: 40" high x 25 3/4" wide
Frame: 50 1/4" high x 35 1/2" wide
Signature: Signed and dated "Rixens 87" (lower left)
Tentations. L'appel des sens (1830-1914), October 2016 - February 2017, Musée Paul-Dini, Musée Municipal de Villefranche-sur-Saône, illustrated p. 71