The model for Nu au Repos was blonde named Marinette who appears in many of the nudes executed by Lebasque during this period. She was a favorite and also posed occasionally for Lebasque’s friend Pierre Bonnard. Reclining on her side, her face turned from the viewer, she evokes an air of both abandon and mystery. The soft continuous line of her foot, calf, buttock, shoulder and arm that flows from upper left to lower right creates a pleasing diagonal element uniting the background and foreground of the composition. The boldly striped curtain, dark flowered wallpaper and brilliant white, pastel and dotted coverlets of the bed, create three distinct, pictorial zones united by the languorous form of the odalisque. Throughout he has conveyed the individuality of the body and his delight in forms and colors, rather than slavishly portraying a beautiful woman. In Nu Au Repos, Lebasque invites the viewer into his intimate and private world, laden with the power of suggestion and seduction.
Hailed as the painter of “joy and light” by the critics and curators of the Louvre during his lifetime, Lebasque’s primary concern was the simple expression of sensuous surface. Lebasque began his studies with Bonnat at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Within a short time however he renounced the strictures of this formal training and joined Bonnard, Vuillard, Signac and Petitjean at the gallery Le Barc de Boutteville. Following this show he exhibited at the Salon de la Societe Nationale in 1896 and then at the Independants and the Salon d’Automne, of which he was a founding member.
Lebasque was a close friend of Matisse, Manguin and Roualt but unlike them did not share their preference for wild, violent color. He took inspiration instead from the softer impressionist palette of Pissarro, with whom he also studied. In his outdoor scenes as well as his intimate interiors he employed large free strokes with the brush to construct his compositions but in colors that were at once vaporous, delicate and harmonious. He spent much of his career in the south of France painting along the shores of the Mediterranean or in his home at Le Cannet. He was a neighbor and close friend of Pierre Bonnard and Henri Matisse, and the three men shared many of the same artistic ideals and aspirations.
Museum Collections Include:
Musee d’Orsay, Paris; The Fine Arts Museums, San Francisco; Detroit Institute of Art, MI; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City