Musée d’Orsay buys a pastel by Devambez

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3/5/23 - Acquisition - Paris, Musée d’Orsay - A jack-of-all-trades artist, both popular and academic, André Devambez has been brought out of oblivion thanks to the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rennes and the Petit Palais in Paris, which have devoted an exhibition to him (see article), while the gallery Fabienne Fiacre has presented his creations on several occasions. If he liked the small formats, he also conceived decorations, for the room of the Council of the University to the Sorbonne for example, or for the Embassy of France in Vienna (see the article). While he produced a number of humorous caricatures and illustrations, he also recounted the war in a series of dramatic etchings. He painted individual portraits as well as crowd effects, loved the modern city, its theaters, its subway and its inhabitants, favored bold framing and high points of view, which earned him the nickname "painter of the sixth floor.

André Devambez (1867-1944)
Procession au crépuscule, 1902
Pastel on canvas - 59 x 84 cm
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
Photo: RMN-GP/S. Crépy
See the image in its page

The Musée d’Orsay recently acquired a Procession au crépuscule (Twilight procession) that stands out in the artist’s output for its technique, pastel, which was rarer under his hand. It is a work tinged with mystery, almost symbolic, created in 1902, in his early years; perhaps it was conceived a few years earlier during his stay in Rome. Here Devambez does not capture tiny figures seen from above, but dark shadows walking through a landscape of uncertain light. The golden heat of the day caresses the trees in the foreground, which have already been won over by colder tones; the blue hour is here, announcing the night. The women hold candles for a religious procession whose luminous points in the dark draw the eye to the church. This work was purchased from a private individual. It is the largest known pastel by Devambez. It is currently on view in the museum’s fine exhibition of the pastel (see article) and joins in the collections several works of the artist, notably a famous painting, La Charge, also dated 1902 and visible at the Salon de la Société des artistes français. That year, the artist also participated in the second exhibition of the Société des Arts Réunis, organized at the Galerie Georges Petit, and then exhibited regularly within this group.

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