Jean Émile Laboureur
Nantes 1877 – Kerfalher 1943
Little girl sitting
Gouache on wood.
On the verso, the artist’s stamp (a crab in a rectangle with initials JEL) and various inscriptions j.e. laboureur 1898/ Petite fille au pot (cf Bois / d…. 578 dotz 35).
238 x 140 mm – 9 3/8 x 5 1/2 in.
Literature : Sylvain Laboureur, Jean-Émile Laboureur, tome III, Peintures, aquarelles et gouaches, tome IV Documentation, Neufchâtel, Ides et Calendes, 2001, p. 18, n°8, illustrated.
Laboureur studied at the Julian Academy in Paris and was initiated into the art of engraving by Auguste Lepère. He was also strongly influenced by Paul Gauguin’s “primitivism”. Between 1899 and 1911, he travelled extensively to Germany, the United States and to Canada, but also to Great-Britain, Italy, Greece and to Turkey. In 1912, he settled in Paris where he got close to Cubist artists and made illustrations for several literary works by Giraudoux, Colette, Gide, Mauriac, Maurois, Maeterlinck etc. In his studio, he received and trained many artists such as Marie Laurencin and André Dunoyer de Segonzac. He founded the Salon de l’art français (1929 – 1932) with Victor Dupont, who had learnt engraving with him. Laboureur spent his summers in Le Croisic, Brittany, a place which attracted many artists, such as Eugène Boudin, Paul Signac, Maxime Maufra and Henri Le Sidaner. Although he was mainly an engraver and illustrator, Laboureur made lots of drawings, paintings and even decors, such as those he painted in the Maison du Travail (House of Labor) in 1937.
This lovely small painting is related to a wood engraving, BNF Fol EF 465 (13) dated 1898 (198 x 140 mm) and to a watercolour drawing, Petite fille au pot ou Henriette assise, very close to our composition but of bigger size and in which the girl is holding a book (Fig. 1; Ader, 21-22 May 2012, lot 105). Our small painting can be compared with another oil on wood of the same size called Petite fille en chemise, (Little girl wearing a shirt) which is also related to a wood engraving dated 1898 (Jean-Émile Laboureur, p. 19, n° 9).
Its composition, the simplicity of its lines, and its date of execution situate this work in between Gauguin’s synthetism and the Nabis.