Fine Art

Jean-Gabriel Domergue

French, 1889-1962

Evening At the Races

 
Oil on masonite
16 1/4 x 13 inches (41.3 x 33 cm)
Framed: 22 3/4 x 19 1/2 inches (57.8 x 49.5 cm)
Signed: Jean-Gabriel Domergue

Provenance:

Purchased from the artist, 1950s
Private Collection, Germany

Literature:

To be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonne on the artist by Noe Willer.

Jean-Gabriel Domergue was a French painter specializing in portraits of Parisian women. He was born in Bordeaux and studied at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts. At the young age of seventeen, in 1906, he exhibited at the Salon Des Artistes Francais. In 1911, he was a second-prize winner of the Prix de Rome and in 1920 won the gold medal award.


At the beginning of his career, he was recognized for landscape painting, but from the 1920s, he concentrated being the painter of the "Parisian lady" and with many of them being nudes, he later claimed to be "the inventor of the pin-up".  Indeed, as an artist Domergue had invented a new type of woman: thin, airy, elegant, with a swanlike neck, and wide seductive eyes, which gaze upon the world with longing. He had a talent for highlighting the fickle and dazzling side of a beautiful woman, that one likes to imagine. His elegant mastery of the paintbrush places him in the tradition of artists such as Fragonnard and Watteauwho in the 18th century helped establish the canons of beauty of their epoch. He also designed numerous dresses, hats and accessories for famous couturier such as Paul Poiret and Henry Marque. From 1955 until 1962 Domergue was the curator of the Musée Jacquemart-André, organising exhibitions of the works of Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Goya and others. He was appointed a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur and received as well the Knight of the Legion of Honour Award and Fellow of the Academy of Fine Arts Award. Jean-Gabriel Domergue died 16 November 1962 on a Paris sidewalk.


As seen in many of Domergue’s works, the central figure of this elegant painting is a fashionably dressed woman. She is seated and awaiting the start of the races, beautifully dressed all in white, complemented by the black plumes in her hat. Flanked by two gentleman spectators in black top hats, the woman's beguiling expression is juxtaposed with the excitement of the races.