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Annotated works

DELAUNAY, Robert

(Paris, 1885-Montpellier, France, 1941)

Femme nue lisant (Nude Woman Reading)

Oil on canvas

81,7 x 93,5 cm

1920

Contemporary Art (20th Century - 21th Century)

N.° inv. 82/254

Donated by Javier de Bengoechea y Niebla in 1979


DELAUNAY, Robert on Online collection

There are seven known versions of this picture painted by Delaunay between 1915 and 1920 portraying a nude female figure in an interior, seated on a chair from which hangs an item of clothing. Reflected in a mirror, the figure is reading a book, bent over a table covered with a cloth. The nude, a classical theme in European painting, is transformed by a dynamic use of colour. The model's well-defined forms are organised in a series of undulating geometric rhythms that refer back to the origin of the work—Rubens' 1635 painting Diana and Calisto kept in the Prado Museum, a copy of which was owned by Delaunay. In the summer of 1915 Sonia and Robert Delaunay visited the Prado regularly to contemplate the old masters, as a result of which the human figure soon reappeared in Robert's abstract works.

Under the influence of Gauguin, Cézanne and Seurat, Robert Delaunay started painting in a self-taught manner. His interest in the principles of Cubism and his encounter with Kandinsky led him to initiate in 1910 a line of work that gave priority to a vibrant use of colour, defined by Apollinaire as "Orphism", according to which a composition was essentially a harmonious exercise in the organisation and distribution of rhythm and colour on the surface of the canvas. The First World War surprised the Delaunays in Spain, establishing ties with the incipient artistic avant-garde. In 1918 Sonia and Robert were invited by the Association of Basque Artists to exhibit their works in Bilbao.  [M.A.] [M.G.M.]

Selected bibliography:

El Ultraísmo y las artes plásticas. Valencia : Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, 1996.

De Picasso a Bacon : arte contemporáneo en las colecciones del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. [Cat. exp.]. Segovia : Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Esteban Vicente, 1999.

Los Ismos de Ramón Gómez de la Serna y un apéndice circense. Madrid : Sociedad Estatal para la Acción Cultural Exterior, 2002.

Robert y Sonia Delaunay, 1905-1914. [Cat. exp.]. Madrid : Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2002.

Novecentismo y Vanguardia, 1910-1936 : en la colección del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2009.

Suroeste : [relaciones literarias y artísticas entre Portugal y España, 1890-1936 = Relaçoes literárias e artísticas entre Portugal e Espanha, 1890-1936]. [Cat. exp.]. Madrid ; Badajoz : Sociedad Estatal de Conmemoraciones Culturales ; MEIAC, 2010.

Paths to Abstraction, 1867-1917. [Cat. exp]. Sydney : Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2010.

Miriam Alzuri; Marta García Maruri.. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : guía. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2011 (1ª ed. 2006; ed. inglés; ed. francés; ed. euskera), p. 168, n.º 119, ad vocem.

Annotated works