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Woman at Window

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Henry Van de Velde
Antwerp 1863 - Oberägeri 1957
1889
oil on canvas
111 x 125 cm
Inventory number 2589

Woman at Window is part of Henry Van de Velde's 1889 series entitled Faits du village, consisting in eight village scenes. Like three other paintings in the series, it was selected for the Salon organised by the Brussels art circle of ‘Les XX’. It was here that, a few years earlier, Van de Velde had seen A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by French artist Georges Seurat, a work that introduced the entirely new technique of Neo-Impressionism or Pointillism. It consisted in applying dots of pure colour onto the canvas to form an image. In other words, colours were mixed not in the actual painting, but in the eyes of the viewer. Van de Velde adopted the technique in his own work. This view of the village through the window is bathing in light, an effect that is hugely enhanced by the luminosity of the yellow, purple and orange dots. The light floods into the room and envelops the woman. She is dressed in Flemish peasant clothing and represents a transitional element between the spiritual life inside the room and the material world outside.

Mind-numbing tinkering

Two years after creating this painting, just one of several successful experiments with the new technique, Van de Velde abandoned Pointillism, branding it ‘a constant obstacle of mind-numbing tinkering’.

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