Watercolor gouache over black pencil lines
Signed and dated "1891" lower left
Dimensions 39 x 19 cm / With frame 58 x 40 cm
Guillaume Dubufe, born in 1853, was an official French painter in the great academic tradition of the 19th century. A remarkable draughtsman, he came from a family of illustrious painters, his father Edouard Dubufe (1819-1883) and his grandfather Claude-Marie Dubufe (1790-1864). Initially a pupil of his father, he continued his training under the great official masters of the Second Empire, Alexis-Joseph Mazerolle (1826-1889) and Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889) at the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris. His first major commission came in 1885, for the ceiling of the Comédie-Française.
Dubuffe spent long periods at his villa in Capri, Italy, where he produced paintings of his home, as well as a series of paintings of the Virgin Mary.
In 1891, he decorated the ceilings of the Robau gallery at the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, as well as the salle des fêtes at the Élysée Palace in 1894 and the Sorbonne library in 1896. That same year, he designed the decoration for the Salon de la Société nationale des beaux-arts in Paris. In 1900, he painted the "Lyon" panel for the main room of the Le Train bleu restaurant in Paris's Gare de Lyon.
He died suddenly on May 25, off the coast of Brazil, just after being appointed curator of the second Salon des peintres français in Buenos-Aires. He left us a limited number of works, whose delicacy is always accompanied by precision.
Our watercolor is a preparatory work for a pair of paintings entitled "La Cigale et la Fourmi" (The Cicada and the Ant). The quality of the nude, the rendering of the skin tone and the fabric behind, are exceptional. This watercolor shows the extent to which Guillaume Dubuffe, at the end of the 19th century, set the same high standards as Cabanel and Bougereau. The young woman's body is treated with virtuosity, as is the fabric in the background, whose supple folds are enhanced by subtle highlights of white gouache.
This watercolor depicts a nude young woman holding a violin in her left hand and an archer in her right. The grace of her posture, the delicacy of her profile and the beauty of her form are striking. The artist uses a beautiful palette of whites and golden browns in this watercolor. The reddish color of the hair echoes that of the instrument, suggesting a close relationship between the figure and her violin. The young girl's superb complexion stands out against a background of skilfully rendered white drapery. This gentle, delicate watercolor evokes the joy of those who devote themselves to music, like the cicada in the fable.