Emile Baes painted masses of female nudes. Our portrait is a refreshing relief: finallly an elegantly dressed woman. It is a beautiful example of Japonism in Europe before the second world war.
About Emile Baes
Belgian painter and writer
Brussels 1879 – 1954 Paris
In his signatures he spelt his first name, which is often difficult to read, “Emile” and “Emiel”.
Pupil of the Belgian painter Joseph Stallaert (1823 – 1903) at the Academy of Brussels.
Pupil in Paris of Alexandre Cabanel (1823 – 1889) and of Léon Bonnat (1833 – 1922).
Cabanel is the best-known representative of the official, extremely sterile and academic French art of painting (“l’art pompier”) under Napoleon III, whose favourite painter he was. When he and Bouguereau refused the participation at the Paris Salon of 1863 of an important number of painters this triggered the creation of the Salon des Refusés (of the rejected ones), marking the birth of avant-garde, and thus of Impressionism.
Léon Bonnat worked in the academic tradition of naturalism, as an energetic portrait painter. Among his pupils rank Edvard Munch, Gustave Caillebotte, John Singer Sargent, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and even Raoul Dufy and Georges Braque.
Baes started in the academic tradition, but rapidly turned to portraiture. He became above all the painter of female nudes, models posing naked, in a soft Impressionist style: the ultimate art for the boudoir or bedroom.
He wrote several books about painting.
About our painting
Our painting forms a real relief within the soft-erotic oeuvre of Baes: finally a woman wearing clothes without a longing look. He actually only sketched her face in the reflection of the mirror. What a break with the hundreds of rather stupid poses he usually painted. Baes, his clients, or both, must have been obsessed with female nudes. This lady here must have been very dear to him.
His technique, the execution, also seems superior to the bulk of his production.
The hint to Japonism even gives the painting a refreshing, intelectual touch, rooting it firmly within the avant-garde. Until 1854 Japan had closed its borders for twohundred years, remaining in a splendid isolation. European artists got obsessed with Japanese prints and the general public was addicted to Japanese screens, fans, umbrellas, porcelain and lacquer objects. One of the first important paintings showing a Japanese subject, “La Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine”, was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1865 by the American painter James Abbot McNeil Whitstler (1834 – 1903) who had left the USA in 1855 (and never returned).
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a very unusual subject within the bulk of female nudes that Baes usually painted.
Because it is a lovely, fashionable post-Impressionist portrait that refers to Japonism.