'The Bathers' by Charles Kvapil (circa 1920s)
'The Bathers', oil on canvas, by Charles Kvapil (circa 1920s). The world of art has for centuries depicted bathers in one form or another. Kvapil's version, inspired by Courbet and Cézanne, is wonderfully alluring. Four nudes appear near a secluded pond surrounded by verdant flora in this very sizeable artwork. As with other works by the artist, the bathers are portrayed as simply another natural entity in the rich, green environment. Although the bathers are in a group, each seems absorbed in their own thoughts, perhaps feeling their interconnectedness with the surrounding trees, the plants along the water's bank, and perhaps also, the fish in the pond. The artwork is in fair overall condition in its original frame. There's a slight blemish in the paint in the very lower left corner and characterful nicks and blemishes on the old frame. The artist signed the work in the lower right hand: 'Kvapil'. Please enjoy the many photos accompanying this listing. Upon request a video may be provided.
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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; one 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 133 cm / 52.36"
W 115 cm / 45.3"
Dimensions without frame:
H 115.5 cm / 45.5"
W 98 cm / 38.6"