Julien-Adolphe Duvocelle (Lille 1873 - Corbeil Essonne 1961)
Woman with eyes closed
Oil on canvas
41,5 x 33 cm
Signed on lower left: J Duvocelle
Julien Duvocelle is an artist who never ceases to surprise us each time one of his works reappears. Although he had a classical training, first with the painter Pharaon de Winter in Lille, then in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts in the studio of Léon Bonnat, nothing at the beginning of his apprenticeship suggested his later production.
He participated in the Salon des artistes français from 1897 onwards and from then on his painting became progressively darker and more anguished. The titles of the works he presented testify to this: A Widow (1901), Lassitude (1902), Waiting (1903), Worrying (1908), Meditation (1909), and Resignation (1914).
He also developed a taste for morbid subjects, where skulls with exorbitant eyes are invited into macabre scenes, as in the drawing kept in the Musée d'Orsay.
Paradoxically, during this same period, the portraits he made of his wife and young children show a great gentleness mixed with sensuality, an intimate universe that seems preserved.
But the public is probably not aware of this other aspect of the artist and only associates it with works closer to our painting.
Here a woman is represented halfway down the body with her eyes closed and a headband on her head. Painted in brown cameos, only the face and neck stand out from the background. Is this the vision of a diaphanous patient? Of a deceased person appearing in a vision? The image makes one feel uncomfortable. Almost unhealthy, it generates a form of disgust.
Like certain symbolist works, this very personal production quickly finds only a limited echo with the public and the artist sinks into oblivion at the end of the First World War.
This explains in part the difficulties that we may encounter today in documenting his career. However, our gallery's ambition is to realize a monographic exhibition that would allow the greatest number of people to discover him and to measure the originality of this unclassifiable artist.
 Skull with bulging eyes and hands clinging to a wall, Musée d'Orsay (R.F. 44338)
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