Ink and watercolor on paper
27.3 x 20.6 cm (framed: 47.2 x 40 x 2.8 cm)
Image courtesy of Galerie Buchholz, Berlin, Cologne, and New York
Marie Laurencin (1883-1956) was born in Paris and lived most of her life in France. Laurencin produced a prolific output of painting, works on paper, prints and book illustrations whose constant subject was the stylized portrait of the jeune fille, or young woman. This early self-portrait features graphic lines and flattened figures, rendered in an intentionally naïve, Sunday painter style similar to that of Henri Rousseau. But while she recalls Rousseau stylistically, she uses a deskilled gesture as a vehicle for inquiry into the stereotypes associated with female painting as both a critical reflection of them and a marketing operation fashioning her artistic identity. This early portrait, in its mannered simplicity, paved the way for Laurencin’s signature jeune fille of the 1920s for which she became famous:
Mme Laurencin has painted pretty sets for Les Biches and the whole ballet comes to look like the figures she paints. In the corridor I heard a woman say to a man: ‘Look around the house, all the women look as though they were by Marie Laurencin; she has fashioned a type just as Boldini created the eel look fifteen years ago.
– René Gimpel, Diary of an Art Dealer (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1966), p. 260