Lot n° 362
7000 - 9000
Result with fees
: 12 880EUR
IACOVLEFF Alexandre Evgéniévitch (1887-1938).
"Portrait d'Aïcha" (Portrait of Aïcha)
Sanguine on paper, signed lower right by the artist in Latin characters, located Paris, dated 1922, preserved under glass in an antique gilded wood frame.
Traces of glue on the border, minor damage to the frame.
Sight: H.: 50.5 cm - W.: 47.5 cm
Frame: H.: 62 cm - W.: 59 cm
A certificate of authenticity from Madame Caroline Haardt de La Baume, expert in the work of Alexandre Iacovleff and member of the Chambre Européenne des Experts d'Art, will be given to the buyer. This lot will be included in the catalog raisonné of Alexandre Iacovleff that she is currently preparing.
PORTRAIT OF AÏCHA, MUSE OF MONTPARNASSE, BY ALEXANDRE IACOVLEFF
Barely had he arrived in Paris during the Roaring Twenties, and Alexandre Iacovleff was launched in 1920 by the Barbazanges gallery exhibition of his Drawings and Paintings from the Far East and the superb book of the same name published by Lucien Vogel. Buoyed by the prestige of his studies at the Imperial Academy of Saint Petersburg, where he had mastered sanguine and tempera, the Russian artist taught at one of the many academies in Montparnasse and was already producing portraits of great finesse.
Was it at La Rotonde, Le Sélect, the Académie de la Grande Chaumière or elsewhere that Alexandre Iacovleff met Montparnasse's best-known black model, Aïcha Gobelet, known as "Aïcha"? This mulattress with a singular existence, who came from the circus and was approached in the street by Jules Pascin, who made her his regular model, became the darling of the Ecole de Paris and posed for the Russian painter.
In this sanguine "Portrait d'Aïcha", Alexandre Iacovleff has modestly chosen to depict her beautiful, deep-eyed face, framed by her famous turban and a piped collar. He had already made a preparatory study for this work in 1921 (Etude pour Aïcha, charcoal, 17x 10 cm, sketch books ©Archives Haardt). In it, Aïcha is seated, still wearing her turban and piped collar, and almost frigidly drapes a wrap-around cape over her. On yet another occasion, without feeling cold, Aïcha poses for him naked in an original work of great freedom, Femme à l'ostruche, (Sanguine and gouache on paper, 149.8 x 57.7 cm, Lot 134, Christie's London, November 29, 2006 ©Christie, Manson & Woods Ltd).
"PRINCESSE AÏCHA" was part of all the wild nights in Montparnasse! Wearing her famous turban, she appeared on the cover of Paris Montparnasse magazine in 1929, where poet André Salmon described her as follows: "If Aïcha is often naked, she rarely undoes her turban, sometimes cabbage green, sometimes silver, which suits her so well (...) Long before Joséphine Baker launched the fashion for banana belts, Aïcha wore her tiny raffia skirt to wild parties in Montparnasse".
Free-spirited and delightful, Aïcha posed for a multitude of artists, but confided to the newspaper L'œuvre in 1930 that "in their paintings, I never recognized myself". Interviewed by Jean-Marie Drot in the camera book Les heures chaudes de Montparnasse, Musée du Montparnasse, 2007, she recalls Prince Pascin, who had discovered her: "For over a year, I posed only for him, but I never wanted to pose nude, because he was like a brother to me, so I was ashamed. He was furious because I posed nude for all the painters. But one day, since they all wanted me as a model, I went out on my own."
And what wings! The Ecole de Paris snapped her up. The list is long of those who were seduced by her exceptional plasticity. Matisse, Valotton, Kisling, Van Dongen, Foujita, Modigliani but also Ottmann, Matthey, Steinlen, or her Ukrainian companion Granowsky, always wearing a Texan hat and nicknamed the Cowboy. Man Ray photographed her with her turban, Jeanne Tercafs sculpted her profile in bronze, Charles Boyer played her in the theater and André Salmon dedicated a book to her in 1920, La Négresse du Sacré-Cœur. A real prize list...
Recently, Aïcha has been rediscovered. At the "Le modèle noir de Géricault à Matisse" exhibition at the Musée d'Orsay in 2019, three painters paid tribute to her. Félix Vallotton painted her in a green bathrobe, wearing her silver turban. (Aïcha, oil on wood, 1922, 99.8 x 80.5 cm, Private Collection); Henri Matisse depicts her without a turban alongside Lorette (Aïcha et Lorette, oil on wood, 1917, 86 x 108 cm, Private Collection); Moïse Kisling paints her naked, topped with her cabbage-green turban (Aïcha, oil on wood, 1919, 43.5 x 40.5 cm, Private Collection).
And in 2023, Alexandre Iacovleff's "Portrait d'Aïcha" puts the Montparnasse muse and her famous turban back in the spotlight!
Caroline Haardt de La Baume
1 Etude pour Aïcha, charcoal, 17x10 cm, Sketchbook, 192
2 Femme à l'ostruche, Sanguine and gouache on paper, 149.8 x 57.7 cm ©Christie, Manson & Woods Ltd.
3 Princesse Aïcha, Paris Montparnasse magazine, August 15, 1929. D.R.
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