Early Portrait Study
26" x 19.5"
French artist Guillaume Larrue (1851–1935) was a successful and award-winning painter in his time, earning renown at salons and winning a bronze medal at the Universal Exhibition held in Paris in 1900. Under the tutelage of painter Alexandre Cabanel (1823–1889) at the École des Beaux-Arts, Larrue was influenced by a rather traditional style of painting that focused on classical and historical subject matter, often with subtle, erotic undertones. With the maturation of his career, Larrue became well known for his intimate interior scenes, charming portraits, and architectural views of famous places such as the Egyptian Hall at the Louvre and the gardens of Versailles. In the case of this unfinished drawing, likely a preparatory study for a portrait, we see a different side of Larrue’s work. A woman, identified by the artist on the bottom right of the sheet as Adilla Scote, alongside her address, bends forward, shoulders hunched, and gently holds the heel of her left foot. Loosely draped fabric covers her lap and bisects her figure, bringing attention to her exposed upper body. Despite the sketchy and rough nature of the drawing, more defined details can be seen in the joint of her elbow, parts of her hair, the shading behind her knee, and the white highlights on the drapery. Her facelessness and undefined right arm remind us of the unfinished nature of the image and suspend the viewer in a perpetual state of curiosity at her raw and partial form. This is a fascinating and intimate piece.
At this time in France, the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret was co-founded in 1889 by businessmen Charles Zidler (1831–1897) and Joseph Oller (1839–1922). Opening as an outdoor garden cafe-concert venue called the “Jardin de Paris”, the cabaret quickly became a popular entertainment venue for individuals from all walks of life. The Moulin Rouge is best known today as the birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance, and is a popular Parisian tourist attraction.