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Marie Laurencin

Cubism, Fauvism, Portraits

  • Trois Jeunes Femmes dans un Paysage

Marie Laurencin

(Paris, 1883 - Paris, 1956)

Trois Jeunes Femmes dans un Paysage, 1914

Oil on the wooden strands of a fan
Signed and dated above and to the right

Dimensions of the open fan: 20 x 37 cm

Provenance :
- Marie de Rohan-Chabot (1876-1951), Princess Lucien Murat, Paris
- Princess Salomé Murat-Chalandon (1926-2016), Paris
- Private collection, by descent, Paris

Inscribed in the Archives Marie Laurencin of Mr. Daniel Marchesseau


When Marie Laurencin painted this fan in 1914, she had emigrated to Spain with her husband Otto von Wätjen, a German baron whose nationality she took on through her marriage. Surprised by the declaration of war in August during their honeymoon, the couple took refuge in Spain until 1919. During her exile, Marie Laurencin frequently visited the Prado Museum in Madrid for comfort. Her discovery of the old Spanish masters had a profound impact on her own painting, with a more polished technique and a new taste for detail. Her works also became more poetic and sensual. From this period onwards, she painted almost exclusively elegant women adorned with accessories that emphasised their beauty. Young women who invariably had very light skin tones, graceful figures and enigmatic attitudes...
Marie Laurencin produced very few paintings during this period of exile. 

The choice of painting on a fan was no doubt not insignificant, because although the object was very popular in Spain, it was also a symbol of femininity. Its small size and lightness made it easy to carry around for the couple, who travelled a lot.

On her return to France, Marie Laurencin certainly gave this fan Trois filles dans un jardin to her writer friend Princess Lucien Marie Murat, née Marie de Rohan Chabot, who kept it preciously. 

Like a miniature, this delightful little composition by Marie Laurencin, painted in oil on the black-tinted wooden strands of the fan, already condenses all the major principles of her work.
It depicts three young girls, dressed in pastel-coloured dresses, sketching out a dance movement. The use of a palette in a range of pinks, greens and blues underlines the delicacy of the young models. "I didn't like all colours," said the artist in 1934. "So why use the ones I didn't like? Resolutely, I put them aside. So I only used blue, pink and green, white and black".

Examples of fans painted by Marie Laurencin are very rare. 
In 1911, she adorned one with charming watercolour sketches on a sheet of pleated paper, and gave it as a token of love to the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, with whom she had been a couple since 1907.

Fan, 1911
Watercolour on paper, mounted on wood
dedicated, signed and dated :
A Guillaume Apollinaire
Son amie
Marie Laurencin May 1911

44 x 24 cm
Private collection


Marie Laurencin was particularly fond of the fan. This delicate accessory can be seen in several of the artist's paintings, including many self-portraits.

The Fan, 1911
Oil on cardboard
Marie Laurencin Museum, Nagano-Ken, Japan

The Two Spaniards, 1915
Oil on canvas


"Between the Fauves and the Cubists
Trapped, little doe.
A lawn, anaemias
Pale the noses of friends.
France, daughter of many,
Clara d'Ellebeuse,
Sophie Fichini.
Soon the war will be over
For the gentle cattle to rear,
At the shutters of your fan.
Long live France!"

Jean COCTEAU to music by Georges AURIC

Marie LAURENCIN in 1924
Photograph probably taken by Francis POULENC

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