Gustave Bourgogne, Prelude Nb XXI - Original mid-20th-century gouache painting


An original mid-20th-century gouache painting, Gustave Bourgogne Prelude Nb XXI.

A striking interpretation in gouache of a musical composition, possibly Prelude XXI from Bach’s Well-tempered Klavier. This intensely colourful work could be interpreted as a naturalistic study of flowers, were it not for the two human figures embracing in the glass vase. This gives tha image a visionary quality, and as with other works in this collection the sprays of flowers appear like fireworks.

Signed with a stamp on the mount. Inscribed on the mount ‘prelude XXIe. Retour à l’endroit.’
Backing card: Creases to all four corners. Tears to the lower right edge, and the lower centre edge. Small paper loss in the upper left corner and lower left corner edge. Pinholes to the upper right and left, just above the image. Glue remnants visible lower right near the image. Remnants of mounting tape verso.  Image itself: Pinhole in the upper left corner. Tear and paper loss to the upper right side edge, as shown. Small tear to the centre left side edge. Small crease to the lower right corner. 
32.6cm x 24.7cm.

This is one of a series of works from a large folio of paintings by Gustave Bourgogne, entitled ‘la Peinture Musicale.’ Gustave Bourgogne (1888-1968) was one of the leading figures in an artistic movement of the Twenties, Thirties and Forties, which tried to create a synthesis between the visual arts and the art of music. Bourgogne was one of the founders, in 1932, of the Association des Artistes Musicalistes. These ‘musicalists’ tried to recreate in paint the emotion that was evoked by a piece of music: to find an equivalent for sound in colour and pictorial form.

In Bourgogne’s case, the inspiration for this approach came in 1928, when he heard the bells of the cathedral at Malines in France. Through a particular form of synaesthesia, Bourgogne experienced these sounds also as colours, and would devote much of his career to the attempt to reproduce in his paintings the feelings that he had when listening to music. In Bourgogne’s words, both music and painting have the same ‘deep rhythm,’ which he sought to express.

Bourgogne specialised in landscapes and still lifes, but as his career progressed, so they became increasingly difficult to distinguish, in their great expressiveness, from his abstract and semi-abstract interpretations of great musical compositions. Frequently, the titles of these paintings cite the specific musical works that inspired them.

The joyfulness and exuberance of the works in our collection belie the fact that many of them were painted during the dark days of the Second World War.

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Product code: JG-723

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