Mireille Mosler Ltd. is proud to participate for the tenth year in Master Drawings New York. Mireille Mosler, specialized in European old masters and symbolist artists from the turn of the twentieth century, will show an eclectic mix of works on paper from the seventeenth through the early twentieth century.
In Allegory of the loss of Arnhem, dated 10 June 1672, by Willem van Nijmegen (1636-1698), the historic event of the fall of the Dutch city of Arnhem to the French is revealed through its elaborate inscription, usually associated with prints. An elderly woman spinning yarn at first glance indicates a domestic genre scene. However, after reading the text, the trompe l’oeil of this drawing that looks like an engraving, is full of political and moral authority, as it describes the awful events that took place in Arnhem, known in Dutch history as the rampjaar, the "disaster year." Following the outbreak of the Franco-Dutch War and the Third Anglo-Dutch War, the powerful Dutch Republic was simultaneously attacked by British, French, and German invading armies. Going full circle, the subject depicted not only mimics a print but borrows it subject matter from Pieter Quast’s 1652 engraving The Devil Messing up the Yarn.
Gustave Moreau’s (1826-1898) Hélène Glorifiée from 1896, commissioned by the countess Grefullhe, at the time one of the leading patrons in Paris and the inspiration for the character of the duchesse de Guermantes in Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu, who hung it in pride of place in her living room. Hélène Glorifiée was so successful that the artist intended to develop it into a much larger canvas, the oil sketch for which is in the Musée Gustave Moreau. Helen, the female protagonist from Goethe’s Faust is surrounded by her eternal admirers. Referencing Botticielli’s Birth of Venus, Moreau’s bejeweled protagonist is perhaps one of the best examples of Moreau’s unique Symbolism and hazy mysticism so prevalent in fin-de-siècle Paris.
A group of six drawings by Xavier Mellery (1845-1921) covers a wide range of this precursor of Belgian Symbolism. After Mellery spent one year on the isolated island of Marken in the Netherlands in 1878, it propelled his artistic output towards the naturalistic movement of the Belgian avant-garde. Marken was to Mellery what Brittany was to Gauguin: a lost paradise. Mellery's year-long stay in the fishers community represented a turning point in his career: distancing himself from his academic training, he introduced ideas of social conditions. All islanders, regardless of their social standing, wear the same tranditional cusstomes as we can observe in the all-black Marken Tryptich, last exhibited in the monographic exhibition in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2000. Domestic life is further explored in Interior in Marken Island and The Weaver. Portraying the inner life of things, the meditative silence, achieved through the use of a limited palette and subdued coloring, Mellery veils the mundane of this storefront as mysterious and poetic.
From the seventeenth century old woman spinning yarn, a foreboding image of messy upheaval the future holds, via the ravishing beauty of Helen, the fatal enchantress who captured all mankind in her spell, these heroines are on view at 4 East 81st Street #1B through February 1st.