Constantin Guys

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Constantin Guys
La Belle Thérèse
ca. 1870-1875
Black ink wash on paper.
6 3/8 x 4 1/2 inches (162 x 114 mm)
Gift of David K. Kermani, from the Collection of John Ashbery.

Guys' interest in modern life extended to the realm of nightlife, cabarets, and the theater, as well as the burgeoning role of sex workers associated with these venues and the culture of the brothel. This portrait of a woman wearing a choker and a low-cut, belted gown with front pockets where she places her hands is similar to a series of studies of procuresses (see Musée Carnavalet, Paris, D 999, for example).
One aspect of Guys' draftsmanship that aligned him with modernity and inspired an enthusiastic response among critics was his embrace of a non-academic style. Guys drew freely with the brush or pen, using wash or watercolor fluidly and liberally to capture fugitive glimpses and fleeting movement. He was not seeking the academically correct forms, precise contours, and meticulously rendered details of the juste-milieu artists. This liberation from the constraints of proper drawing, and his choice of contemporary subject matter, made him the epitome of a new artistic language.

John Ashbery (1927-2017), New York; David K. Kermani, New York.
Associated names: 

Ashbery, John, 1927-2017, former owner.
Kermani, David K., former owner.

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