"French School Late 19th Century, Portrait Of Jane Avril, 1893"French School (XIXth century)
Portrait of Jane Avril, 1893
Oil on canvas
H. 41 x L. 33.5 cm
Annotated and dated on the back on the frame, "Moulin Rouge Jane April 1893"
Jane Avril was born in Paris on June 9, 1868. She is one of the most famous dancers of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Her fame is mainly due to the many portraits that Henri made of Toulouse-Lautrec. Daughter of an insane mother and a father who did not recognize her, she was first raised by her paternal grandparents, then by her mother - who mistreated her - before being placed in a specialized institution for the first time. nine years old. She received mistreatment which contributed to the development of her nervous troubles - hence her nickname "Jane the Mad." She tells in her memoirs that she tried one day to commit suicide but that she was collected by prostitutes who made her discover Parisian night life. From this period, she began to frequent the places where these women half-dancers, half prostitutes, brought it. In the first place the Bullier Ball, where she took her first steps as a passionate dancer. "At once in this ball, with the catchy accents of a frenzied orchestra, an impulse to which I could not resist carried me away, although the struggle between my shyness and my temptation made my heart beat to break it! And here I am going to dance and leap, like an escaped kid, or better as a crazy girl that I must have been a little. [...] From this famous evening date my vocation as a dancer, my only reason to be from now on ... "Jane Avril, My Memoirs, Romande Digital Library, 1933, p.31 She also attended the café Vachette and began to meet the personalities of the literary world of the time, such as Villiers of Isle Adam, Banville, Huysmans and Verlaine. It was his meeting with Charles Zidler that was decisive, since it gave him the opportunity to enter the Moulin Rouge. There, she quickly became famous and a large number of artists, Toulouse-Lautrec first, took her as a model. "The painters were there, many who took sketches" in Jane Avril, My Memoirs, Digital Library Romande, 1933, p.57 His career flew away and continued to the Decadents, the Japanese Divan, Eldorado, at the Jardin de Paris, at Tabarin, but especially at the Folies Bergère, where she experienced a triumph and created her own ballet, L'Arc-en-ciel. Jane Avril contributed to the evolution of dance practices in Europe and spread the French cancan in the main capitals, from London to Madrid. On a personal level, she was married to the painter and draftsman Maurice Biais from 1911. She died in 1943 and rests at Père-Lachaise. This portrait of Jane Avril, dating from 1893, was made at the time when the dancer was on the rise and performed at the Moulin Rouge. Her features, immortalized by a large number of artists, are easily identifiable. We recognize his thin, slender face, his high cheekbones, his mischievous air ... But also his thin lips and pinches, as well as his mischievous smile that draws his famous dimples His menu bone, bone, somewhat salient is also very characteristic of his physiognomy. His expression, "malicious", is accentuated by his arched eyebrows, his high eyelids and slightly advanced teeth. Finally, we recognize his fine nose, straight, rolled up, and the wide dimple between his nose and his mouth. All of these physical characteristics, which can be found both in period photographs and in his known portraits, attest to the identity of our model in this unpublished painting. Many artists went to cabarets to freeze the features of the fascinating Jane Avril. In addition to Toulouse-Lautrec, they were in fact very much to wish to realize his portrait. We learn in particular in her memoirs that she possessed her portrait "by Renoir, of which Théodor de Wyzéwa was his friend [him] present, and so many other dear paintings, including a Daumier, pastels gouache of Jean-Louis Forain, a Antoine Guillemet and bright Picasso. But that she was "obliged, in order to face deadlines, to separate from works". Unfortunately, many of these portraits are now lost, unrecognized or unallocated. Bibliography: François Caradec, Jane Avril, at the Moulin Rouge with Toulouse-Lautrec, Paris, Fayard, 2001. Jane Avril, My Memoirs, followed by the late-century dance class, Paris, Phébus, 2005. * * *