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Portrait of W. S. Davenport

Kees van Dongen

European Art

Kees van Dongen was a popular society portraitist in 1920s Paris. Here, he takes advantage of the black-and-white contrasts afforded by a tuxedo and reflections on black patent shoes. The striking blue-green highlights to the flesh tones of the face are a legacy of van Dongen’s association earlier in the century with the movement called Fauvism, characterized by the use of bold, non-naturalistic colors.

The debonair sitter for this portrait was an American dentist living in Paris. The bright red brushstroke punctuating his lapel is the badge of the Legion of Honor, awarded to him for his work in facial reconstructive surgery during World War I.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES ca. 1925
    DIMENSIONS 86 11/16 x 51 9/16 in. (220.2 x 131 cm) frame: 95 × 59 × 3 1/2 in. (241.3 × 149.9 × 8.9 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Signed lower right: "k/v Dongen"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William Slocum Davenport
    PROVENANCE Before 1932, acquired from the artist by William Slocum Davenport and Mrs. Davenport of Paris, France; 1932, gift of William Slocum Davenport and Mrs. Davenport to the Brooklyn Museum.
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    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Kees van Dongen (Delfshaven, Netherlands, 1877 – 1968, Monte Carlo, Monaco). Portrait of W. S. Davenport, ca. 1925. Oil on canvas, 86 11/16 x 51 9/16 in. (220.2 x 131 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William Slocum Davenport, 32.117. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 32.117_cropped_PS2.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 32.117_cropped_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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