Fabulous Oil on canvas depicting a life-sized social life scene (Length 220.47inch X Width 98.43inch from the Impressionist period circa 1905/1906; Painting lost and rediscovered by Marc Segoura Gallery and Galerie William Diximus.
Full file on request
The lastest discovery of a major painting by Henry Caro-Delvaille renews the state of knowledge about the career of this artist.
Applauded by critics, he had his paintings bought by the French State as soon as 1905 and was promoted by the greatest art dealers and connoisseurs of his time: Georges Bernheim Jeune in Paris, then Nathan Wildenstein and René Gimpel in New York.
This large composition of a new kind dates from the most appreciated and sought-after artistic period of the artist.
Caro-Delvaille adapted the shape and the size of the history painting for his genre scene. It thus gives a major importance to the action and its actors in an environment reminiscent of the theatrical world. The precision of certain renderings is magnified by his wide and visible brush remembering both Edouard Manet’s thick brush and Auguste Renoir’ evanescent one.
There is no archive material about the identity of the guests. Christine Gouzi, art historian and author of a monograph on the painter, hypothesizes that the different characters are all related. The White Peacock represents "an elegant tea of the Jewish high society of that time," among which the most influential bankers of Bayonne in the 1900s.
The businessman Jules Gommès with a white beard, represented on the left under a fruit tree, is easily recognizable. The patriarch of the family had founded the Jules Gommès & Cie bank and ensured that the management was provided by family managers including his son Armand. The latter had married Eugenie Delvaille, daughter of Dr. Camille Delvaille, public figure of Bayonne. Should we see the portrait of the young couple at the center of the painting.
The sensual female faces, often barely sketched, remind us of the features of the four sisters of the artist's wife. He painted them two years prior to the White Peacock in a collective portrait bought by the French state (My wife and her sisters, 1904).
Having grown up in Bayonne, Emma Lévy was introduced to the painter Raymond Lévi by her sister Aline and her brother-in-law Henry in Paris, where she lived for a while. According to a family tradition, Caro-Delvaille gave the idea to Raymond to add the name of his mother, Léa Strauss to his surname because he found it too commonly worn. Petite, with black eyes and round cheeks, the youngest of the Lévy sisters could well be represented, in the center of the composition, courted by Raymond that she married in 1907, and recognizable by his symmetrical hairstyle and his short and pointed mustache.
Further to the right, the young man leaning toward a young woman with a fan has the same complexion than Eugène Pascau (1875-1961). Etcheverry and Pascau were both Leon Bonnat's art students as well as Caro-Delvaille (Marie Garay, Léon Bonnat and his pupils, 1914, Bonnat-Helleu museum, Bayonne).
The main question remains the identity of the dandy at the center of the composition. One can imagine that it is the young and dazzling Inspector of Fine Arts, Armand Dayot (1851-1934), crowned with glory after he launched an art magazine L’Art et les Artistes in 1905. The painter and the inspector shared acquaintances and frequented the same artistic circles. The portrait of Dayot published in the album of Figures Contemporaines shows an elegant man, bearded, thin, and usually represented holding a cigarette.
The woman standing from behind would be Rosemonde Gerard, wife of Edmond Rostand (1856-1953).
Henry Caro-Delvaille presented twice in France the White Peacock: first, during the second exhibition of the Intimistes group at the Galerie Henry Graves (rue Caumartin) from February 14 to March 3, 1906; and then two years later at the Salon organized by the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.
These artists were however very well received by the public of the exhibitions, by art critics and by the art market of their time. Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, René-Xavier Prinet, Etienne Moreau-Nélaton, painter and collector of Manet’s works, were among the Henry Graves show in 1906. During the White Peacock’s first exhibition, Jean Valmy-Baysse was attracted by the sophistication of the painting. He wrote that Caro-Delvaille gave "to society events the charm of poetry." In 1910, he published the first monograph on the artist.
In 1908, the painting was displayed in the staircase of the Salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts. It attracted a large number of commentators who shared their enthusiasm in
newspapers. Others portraits by well-known painters, such as Jacques Emile Blanche, Aman-Jean, Gandara, Gervex, Alaux, were shown at the 1908 Salon. But, the work by Caro-Delvaille distinguished itself by its gigantic scale and by its representation of a "modern mondanité" according critic Charles Morice. The painting was also widely reproduced as a sign of its success, in the mass-circulated press Monde Illustré and in quality press l’Art and les Artistes.
-1906 Henry Graves Gallery
-1908 Salon of the National Society of Fine Arts
-1909 Exhibition of French Art, Montreal
Purchased by the Westminster Paris 8 arrondissement: Probably installed on the wall of the dining room of the Westminster Hotel in Paris after 1909.
The exhibition book states that the White Peacock is a decoration for the Westminster Hotel in Paris8. Information relayed, subsequently, several times in the French and American press
-Les Intimistes, Galerie Henry Graves, from February 14 to March 3, 1906.
-Salon of the National Society of Fine Arts, 1908, No. 206.
-Exhibition of French Art, Montreal, 1909, No. 59.
Reproductions of the work at the time of its exhibition:
L’Illustration, 2 mai 1908, n°3401, reproduction (n.p.).
Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Catalogue illustré des ouvrages de peinture, sculpture et gravure, Paris, Ludovic Baschet, 1908.
« Les Salons de 1908. Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts », Je sais tout, janvier-juin 1908, Ier semestre, 4e année, T. IV, p. 526, reproduction.
Léon Bourgeois, « Salon de la Société Nationale », L’Art et les artistes, avril-septembre 1908, T. VII, p. 70. reproduction.
Jean José Frappa, « Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts », Le Monde Illustré, 9 mai 1908, 52e année, vol. 102, p. 303, reproduction.
Pierre de Lanux, « On the Revival of Applied Art. A conversation with Henry Caro-Delvaille », Arts & Decoration, avril 1922, vol. 17, p. 419.
Henry Caro-Delvaille, « The Renaissance of Mural Decoration », The Lotus Magazine, March 1913, vol. 4, n°6, p. 253.
Christine Gouzi, Henry Caro-Delvaille : peintre de la Belle Époque, de Paris à New York. précédé d'entretiens avec Claude Lévi-Strauss, Dijon, éditions Faton, 2016, p. 141.