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Maurice Denis

Nabi, symbolist

  • La Jeune Violoniste

Maurice Denis

(Granville, 1879 - Paris, 1943)

La Jeune Violoniste, 1911 - 1912

Charcoal, pastel and white chalk highlights on paper
Signed in graphite at the bottom left MAURICE DENIS
59.6 x 39.1 cm

Digital certificate of authenticity established by Mrs. Claire Denis, Saint-Germain-en-Laye on November 21, 2019

Preparatory drawing for the tondo L’Orchestre de la coupole du Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris, 1912
The model is the artist's second daughter, Bernadette, 12 years old

Provenance     :
- Jacques Doucet (1853-1929), Neuilly-sur-Seine
acquired in 1912-1913 directly from the artist
Maurice Denis sells twenty preparatory drawings for the painted decor of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées to the famous couturier and legendary collector Jacques Doucet
- Sale Collection of an amateur (Jacques Doucet). Watercolors, Pastels and Modern Drawings, Paris Hôtel Drouot, from December 28 and 29, 1917, under No. 87 (reproduced in the catalog)
- Galerie Druet, Paris, 1917, acquired at the sale in December 1917
- Gabriel Thomas (1854-1932), acquired on January 7, 1918 from the Galerie Druet
Gabriel Thomas was a major financier and promoter, notably of the construction of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. He was also a great art collector. He was a friend and lover of Maurice Denis, of whom he owned a hundred works.
- Sale Gabriel Thomas, Paris, June 13, 1946, under No. 14
- Doctor Ducroquet
- Maître Paul Lombard (1927-2017), famous lawyer and great collector
- Private collection, Paris

Literature    :
- Louis Rouart, editor, Paris, with preface by André Pératé, album of 25 plates from sanguines or drawings by Maurice Denis according to the Marty process, around 1913, reproduced for facsimile XV: Study for the medallion of the Orchestra (Bernadette on violin)
- Will be included in the Catalog raisonné of Maurice Denis' work, currently in preparation by Madame Claire Denis


A pioneer of the Art Deco style, the Champs-Élysées Theater is one of the most beautiful Parisian temples dedicated to the arts. Inaugurated in 1913, it was built by a group of artists: Henry Van de Velde (1863-1957) and Auguste Perret (1874-1954) for architecture, Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929) for exterior bas-reliefs and the frescoes on reinforced concrete inside and Maurice Denis (1870-1943) for the paintings in the dome gathered under the theme of The History of Music.

The cupola of Maurice DENIS: The History of music:
The frieze of this dome is the most imposing monumental secular work of Maurice Denis. True masterpiece testifying to the Christian inspiration of his painting, the importance of his entourage (family and friends) as well as his musical tastes.
Four medallions - The Sonata, The Choir, The Organ and The Orchestra - are inserted between the four main panels - The Greek Orchestra, The Opera, The Symphony, The Lyrical Drama.
"Something of his heart lives there" affirmed Henry Cochin (1854-1926), "we are there as in family". Indeed, the painter represents in his frieze the beloved faces of his relatives (such as his second daughter Bernadette playing the violin in L'Orchestre and his fourth daughter Madeleine singing in Le Chœur) or of his friends (Blanche Selva on the piano in La Sonate ).
Maurice Denis' frieze is based on the idea that different musical forms are links in the same chain connecting the past to the present. Art has no end. In his work Theories 1890-1910. From symbolism and Gauguin towards a new classical order, published in 1912, the painter redefined his position, affirming his return to the imitation of nature and to classical discipline. The painting contains the symbols of an emotion that the artist translates into subjective distortions, while remaining faithful to classical requirements. Nature must be suggested, interpreted but remain identifiable. Now is not the time to paint impressions, but rather to paint symbols of the soul. Even after the disappearance of the Nabis, Maurice Denis will remain faithful to the Symbolist voice.

Dome of the Champs-Elysées Theater painted by Maurice Denis


Photographic photograph published in the magazine L’Art et les Artistes, November 1923, Special Issue Maurice Denis, reproduced at p. 51

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