Important Australian + International Fine Art
26 November 2008

Othon Friesz

(1879 - 1949, French)

oil on canvas

65.0 x 54.0 cm

signed lower left: E Othon Friesz

$20,000 - 30,000
Sold for $22,800 (inc. BP) in Auction 6 - 26 November 2008, Melbourne

Christian Jeanney, Paris
Private collection, Western Australia

Catalogue text

The highly talented Othon Friesz was one of the boldest among the Fauves, when their powerful colours and forms exploded across the Parisian art world in the first decade of the twentieth century. The leading figures of these 'wild ones' were Henri Matisse, Georges Rouault, Maurice Vlaminck, Andre Derain, Georges Braque and Raoul Dufy. Some were Friesz's friends since student days. The Le Havreborn Friesz, encouraged by his parents, had studied at the École des Beaux-Arts at Le Havre, where he met Dufy and Braque. Later, in Paris at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, he extended his circle to include Matisse, Albert Marquet, Henri Charles Manguin, and Charles Camion.

Friesz exhibited first at the Old Salon, the Salon of the Société des Artistes Franç ais of 1900, his early Impressionist style leading to Fauvism, the first Salon d'Automne in 1903 and the 1906 Salon des Indépendants. The impact of the great Paul Cézanne retrospective of 1907 led Friesz, Derain and others to give greater structure to their art, seeking the clearer expression of volume and space. Friesz developed a more traditional style based on Cézanne, as seen so effectively in Les Baigneuses. With a favourite Cézanne motif and a sense of form reminiscent of the master, it also has a certain painterly flair that recalls the individuality and passion of the Fauves.

Friesz's subjects included landscapes, portraits, figure compositions and still life, and his interests encompassed graphic and tapestry design, the illustration of books and teaching. He taught at the Académie Moderne in Paris, the Académie Scandinave, and from 1941-44 at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. He also travelled in Portugal, Belgium, visited Munich and Düsseldorf, and exhibited with the Berlin Secession and in the historic 1913 Armory Show in New York, described by one writer as the 'most spectacular event in the history of early modern American art'.1 In the 1937 Paris Exposition Universelle, Friesz and Dufy painted a large mural on the theme of the River Seine in the Palais de Chaillot.

1. Arnason, H., A History of Modern Art, Thames & Hudson, London, 1978, p. 421