Mechelen 1882 – Amsterdam 1916
Watercolour on paper
53.4 x 42.9 cm
Inventory number 2264
Mechelen-born artist Rik Wouters was an influential painter, sculptor and draughtsman, who switched effortlessly between different modes of expression. Whatever his eyes observed, his hands would transmute by means of clay, brush, pastel or reed pen, depending on the conditions and the materials available. Daily life was a constant source of inspiration to him. The model in Woman Resting is Nel, Wouters's wife, whom he immortalised innumerable times. She is lying on a bed wearing only long black stockings and a necklace. Wouters captured the volume and posture of her body in just a few effective brushstrokes and subsequently added the colour. The interior around the model is represented through roughly applied areas of colour.
Nel's seductive charm stimulated Wouters's imagination. Whenever she stirred his artistic passion, Wouters would ‘stop time’ by recording every impression, movement, reflection of light and colour intensity. In Nel's biography of her husband, she recounts how he used to constantly follow her around the house. However, around 1900, it would have been highly unusual for a woman to allow herself to be seen lying naked on a bed, so Wouters most probably asked Nel to adopt this particular pose. ‘Decent’, married women were, in any case, rarely portrayed in this way.