JOAN OF ARC
Gouache on cardboard
25⅝ x 17 Inches
Signed Lower Right "Jais" and Dated 1923
A substantial, early-twentieth century figural gouache showing Joan kneeling among a group of her military captors and members of religious orders. She is naked but for her halo and a draped cloth that she modestly presses against her body. Her enemies lean away from her as if afraid of her moral strength and righteousness. An imposing Sergeant-at-Arms, dressed in full armor, stands to the right and holds his scabbard firmly, ready to prevent any interference with the process of her sacrifice. In the doorway of the tent, a second solder is seen leaning in, as two two putti hold the shroud with which the saint will be conveyed to her heavenly reward. Nielsen has created a powerful and compelling work that emphasizes Joan's vulnerability while allowing her to dominate the composition through the centrality of her radiance.
Born in Denmark, Jais Nielsen initially studied at Kristian Zahrtmann’s art school and exhibited for the first time at the 1907 Autumn Salon in Copenhagen's Charlottenborg Palace. He participated in the ground-breaking “Group of Thirteen" Modernism show, where his focus on dynamic figural painting and his bold use of color set him dramatically apart from his contemporaries. From 1907-1911, his use of 'primitive' Fauve colors reinforced his clear departure from traditional Danish painting and, in 1911, Nielsen moved to Paris where he settled in the Latin Quarter near the Musée Cluny. His first formal Paris exhibition was at the Salon d’Automne of 1912. During this first Paris period, from which the present work dates, Nielsen attended meetings of the Section d’Or at the studio of Jacques Villon and began to incorporate distinct, yet subtle, Cubist elements into his work.
At the outbreak of World War One, Nielsen moved back to Copenhagen, taking his Parisian Modernist style with him. Sports, dance and circus life were the themes that interested him and he painted many canvases in the best tradition of the early Cubists, of which he became the earliest Danish exponent. Neilsen exhibited widely and with success and was the only Danish artist represented in the landmark Futurist exhibition, “Futurismo & Futurismi” in Venice, Italy in 1986. A retrospective of his work was also held at the Galerie 1900-2000 in 1986.
Jais Nielsen is recognized as a founding pioneer of Scandinavian modernism and his works are held in private and public collections worldwide including the permanent collections of the National Art Museum in Copenhagen and the National Museum in Oslo. He is well-listed in all art historical reference works including Thieme-Becker and in Benezit, which gives a signature sample.
In a later, giltwood swept frame.
Framed Dimensions: 34¼ x 1¾ x 24¾ Inches
Benezit, Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs, et Graveurs, Vol. X, p. 213; Thieme-Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Kunstler, Vollmer Supplement, Vol. XXV/XXVI, p. 465; Weilbach, Dansk Kunstnerleksikon; Bo Lindwall and Lars Erik Aström in: Bild art in Scandinavia, Vol. 4, 1973, 50, 74; Hanne Abildgaard: New then. Art Hist., Vol. 6, 1994; Davenport’s Art Reference Guide, 2007/8 Edition, p. 1733; et al.
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