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


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

A dazzling interpretation in gouache of a piece of music, possibly Prelude XXI from Bach’s Well-tempered Klavier. The artist seems to have envisioned this piece as an array of flowers, but the figures that seem to make up the vase are like the human forms that appear in some of his other dream-like visions inspired by music. The intense colours against a black background add to the other-worldly feel.

Signed upper right. Inscribed in graphite on the lower right of the image: 'XXIc Prelude de Chopin'. Inscribed lower right, below the image: 'Prelude XXIc, [Illegible], Premiere Version.' 
Backing card: Small creases in the upper right and lower left corners of the backing card. Diagonal crease in the lower centre. Three small pinholes near the image, one to the upper right, and two to the lower right. Small tear and paper creasing downwards in the upper left side edge. Image itself: Pinholes in the lower right and left corners. Fraying paper along the edges on the upper and right sides, likely from originally being cut with a blunt instrument. Lower right corner has come loose from the backing card - other corners are all affixed securely. Small circular crease to the upper right corner, from being historically laid down with glue. Painting itself is in good condition.
24.7cm x 32cm.

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.

Text copyright © 2017 Somerset & Wood Fine Art Ltd. All rights reserved.

Product code: JG-721

Share this Product