Important South African and International Art

Live Auction, 4 June 2018

Session Three

Sold for

ZAR 910 400
Lot 316
  • Robert Hodgins; Fête Champêtre


Lot Estimate
ZAR 800 000 - 1 000 000
Selling Price
Incl. Buyer's Premium & VAT
ZAR 910 400

About this Item

South African 1920-2010
Fête Champêtre
signed, dated 2000 and inscribed with the title on the reverse
oil on canvas
90 by 120cm excluding frame

Notes

A fête champêtre, or garden party, was a popular, elegant form of entertainment in 18th-century France, especially at the Court at Versailles. The extensive landscaped gardens lent themselves to all sorts of follies, pavilions and temples to accommodate such festivities, with orchestras hidden in trees and guests in fancy dress. The intended simplicity of such festivities, however, was rather contrived. Robert Hodgins enters into the spirit of such a fête champêtre in the present lot, fancy dress costumes all discarded for a romp in a pool. In his inimitable style, Hodgins suggests something of the festive celebration of nature in and through his abstract figures, their pink flesh contrasting joyfully with the green surrounds and deep blue colour of the water.

Edouard Manet’s famous Luncheon on the Grass (1863) could well have inspired Hodgins’s spirited composition. Manet’s nudes certainly caused a stir among the French art establishment as they were not sufficiently idealised as allegorical Greek goddesses but depicted as ordinary companions to two men about town. Hodgins does not hesitate to rid these two gentlemen of their clothes and have them jump in the pool. Similarly, Paul Cézanne’s The Great Bathers (1898) in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, could be invoked as serving an inspirational function for Hodgins. In the same manner as Cézanne attempted to integrate nude figures with the landscape and the arch of trees soaring up from the simplified curves of the women’s bodies, Hodgins’s bathers become part of the natural world as well.1

The most striking resemblance between the present lot and one of Hodgins’s other works is a work titled, Hodgins Person between Two Hodgins Paintings, depicting precisely what the title suggests: a collar and tied gentleman views what appears to be an exhibition of Hodgins’s work. On the right a painting of a dark coloured pianist and, on the left, a very similar painting to Fête Champêtre, complete with romping figures executed in the similar colour tone of pink flesh against a green background.

1
Brenda Atkinson (2002). Robert Hodgins, Cape Town: Tafelberg, pages 30–31.

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