'The Bather' by Charles Kvapil (1934)
'The Bather', oil on board, by Charles Kvapil (1934). The world of art has for centuries depicted bathers in one form or another. Kvapil's wonderfully alluring versions may likely be inspired by Courbet and Cézanne. The nude appears in a dreamy state surrounded by verdant flora and likely a tranquil stream nearby from which she has just emerged. Her towel cloth sits underneath her cushioning her from the rustic elements. As with other works by the artist, the bather is portrayed as simply another natural entity in the rich, green environment. She is contemplative and meditative, serenely interconnected with the surrounding trees, the plants along the water's bank, and perhaps also, the fish in the pond and the birds in the sky. The artwork is in good overall condition having recently undergone a cleaning by an art restoration professional. It is newly framed with a French-style linen slip and is signed and dated in the lower right hand. On the backside there is a dedication - now covered by the new backing - 'A Caya - In all sympathy - Kvapil - 1934'. Upon request a video may be provided.
As further background, bathing scenes were common throughout Renaissance art. In one of his greatest paintings from 1654, Rembrandt depicted Bathsheba resigning herself to the moral dilemma presented to her by the covetous King David, who spied on her as she bathed; you can’t help but wonder whether we are watching from his voyeuristic point of view. In 18th- and 19th-century France, painters like François Boucher, J.A.D. Ingres, and Eugène Delacroix cast off the classical and biblical associations of the bathing scene and began to use it as a means of presenting the nude in a more naturalistic way. By the 1920s, the bather had become one of the most common motifs in modern art. Matisse, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso and Pierre Bonnard all took on the old trope and plunged it into the 20th Century. Cubism took the familiar figure of the bathing woman and deconstructed, rearranged, and refracted her back as if the scene were unfolding through the reflection in a mirrored disco ball. Surrealism would go even further, with Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró respectively transforming their subjects into hunks of meat and arachnid-like colossi (ref: Digby Warde-Aldam).
About the Artist: Charles Kvapil was born in 1884 in Antwerp, Belgium. He exhibited his first works there in 1908 at the Salon d'Anvers. After the war he attended l'Académie des Beaux-Arts in Antwerp and began to exhibit in Paris in 1920 at the Salon des Indépendants. Kvapil was known primarily as a painter of people, in particular of curvaceous nudes. He moved into a studio in Montmartre where he painted his models in the studio with Sacre Coeur as backdrop. He also painted in the countryside like the Impressionists. Kvapil's paintings are creative and modern; his nudes and bouquets of flowers are energetic and powerful. His palette is rich in cobalt blues and in fiery earth tones. His technique is intuitive and confident. Although his oils were often modestly presented on panels of wood or soft board, those formats did not detract from the evident talent he displayed nor from the joy exemplified in his paintings. His paintings are vigorously sought-after when they become available for sale at the international auction houses.
Dimensions with frame:
H 54 cm / 21.3"
W 46 cm / 18.1"
Dimensions without frame:
H 40 cm / 15.7"
W 31.5 cm / 12.4"