Adam's, 28 March 2001, lot 88;
In this work, O'Neill depicts a female figure in a languorous pose; her arms are raised behind her head, and her eyes are closed. By elongating the figure's neck, and by emphasising the shape of her hips, the artist draws attention to the more sensuous aspects of the subject. This is further accented by the silk fabric which covers the woman's arms and part of her torso. Painted in thick impasto of pink, white, and red, the colours of this fabric are echoed in the vase of flowers in the background, and the coverings on the bed. A final exotic detail is introduced through the string of dark green Tahitian pearls, with small dabs of white paint attracting the viewer's eye. As with the colouring of the fabric and flowers, the form of the pearl necklace is reiterated through the inclusion of the moon in the background of the painting.
This is one of many nude paintings that O'Neill completed throughout his career, and extant works on paper show his interest in drawing from the model. It is likely that when in Paris in the 1940s, O'Neill saw …douard Manet's Olympia, and other notable examples of the genre. An earlier treatment of the female figure, The Blue Skirt, 1949 (Ulster Museum), shows a debt to Gauguin's Tahitian nudes in its bold handling, while the present work finds greater expression in the tactile and sensual aspects of the subject.
Dr Kathryn Milligan
- Auction Details
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