Kees van Dongen, ‘Au café concert’, 1905, Stoppenbach & Delestre

Kees van Dongen, Dutch native, started his studies at the Rotterdam Fine Arts Academy. During this period he frequented red-light district and drew scenes of live among the prostitutes. He moved to Paris in 1897 and participated with Maurice de Vlaminck and Henri Matisse at the Salon des Indépendants of 1904. As a pioneer of Fauvism he exhibited the next year at the Salon d’Automne and was also a member of the Ecole de Paris.
He started his career as a draughtsman and was famous in his use of China ink highlighted with watercolour. Van Dongen realised portraits of international and Parisian figures as well as nudes which were judged obscene and outrageous.

At the beginning of the twentieth century Paris was very lively with its music halls and Cafés frequented by numerous artists. A great many foreign artists moved to Paris, seduced by the modernity and the richness of the city. Girls of Montmartre where one of their favourite subjects and Van Dongen was also fascinated by them, as seen in this drawing of a French Can-Can.
He was considered as the painter of the “Tout Paris” and there are still many unpublished drawings.

Signature: Signed lower right Van Dongen

Image rights: Prudence Cuming Associates

Galerie Charpentier, Paris, Van Dongen, 1942

Private collection

About Kees van Dongen

With his emotionally complex paintings of the European upper class, Kees van Dongen helped expand and modernize the previously conventional genre of portraiture. Van Dongen was formatively influenced by his early involvement with Henri Matisse and the Fauves, and would retain a bold sense of color throughout his career. Van Dongen later joined the German artistic group Die Brucke, working with prominent Expressionist painters Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde, and Max Pechstein, amongst others, and engaging with themes including Primitivism and existential philosophy.

French-Dutch, 1877-1968, Rotterdam, Netherlands, based in Paris, France