Jeune fille rousse signed 'Kisling' (upper left); inscribed and dated 'Paris/ 1937' (upper right) oil on canvas 50 x 41cm (19 11/16 x 16 1/8in). Painted in 1937
PROVENANCE Theodore Block, Richmond (a gift from the artist). Thence by descent to the present owner.
LITERATURE J. Kisling and J. Dutourd, Kisling 1891-1953, vol. III, Landshut, 1995, no. 177 (illustrated p. 162).
Moïse Kisling rejected the notion that he was influenced by other artists or movements, insisting that he created instead 'truly personal works for which I am truly responsible' (the artist quoted in J. Kessel, Kisling, Turin, 1971, p. 36). Despite this, he did allow that 'Derain's paintings used to attract me at length' (op. cit, p. 36) and it is tempting to read this artist's influence in Kisling's monumental presentation of women, along with that of Chagall in the slightly ethereal air of his figures and Modigliani in his sensuous outlines. Kisling met the latter in Paris in the years leading up to the First World War and struck up a close friendship, sharing a studio with him. Both artists shared a particular interest in capturing the female form with clear, elegant contours, as illustrated in Jeune fille rousse.
The unidentified sitter has the exaggerated large almond-shaped eyes common to many of Kisling's female portraits. Her pale porcelain skin and vivid blue eyes shine out against the rich red of her dress and the artist's typical background of gradated vibrant colour. The curls of her hair and curves of her cheeks and lips are echoed by the perfect circle of the necklace which hovers above her elegant neck.
Known as a painter of women, Kisling presents us here with a slightly mysterious and seductive figure the girl's head dips to one side, her lips part and her hooded eyes avoid the viewer's gaze, looking to one side. Reviewing an exhibition of the artist's work at the Gertrude Stein Gallery in 1937, the year in which the present work was painted, Louis Chéronnet described the pull of Kisling's female portraiture:
'He is a sensual materialist with a taste for magnificence [...] Voluptuousness of line and colour! All of Kisling's forms are characteristically elongated and tend toward the arabesque. Upon what seems to be an inalterable base the colours are displayed, raw, iridescent, and unctuous' (op cit, p. 43).