Georgette Agutte-Sembat

Portrait of a woman with a flowery hat in the garden of the house in Bonnières-sur-Seine – Circa 1905.
Oil on canvas.
Label on the back authenticating the painter, the subject and the date.
Dimensions: 54 x 73 cm

Here the artist paints the portrait of a young blonde woman with a flowery hat. The model, authenticated by his nephew, an architect in Louviers, on a label on the back of the canvas, is named Alice Muller.
It is represented in the garden of the birth place of Marcel Sembat was and which served as the artist’s studio. The couple Marcel Sembat and Georgette Agutte was a prominent couple of the Belle Epoque. The politician of letters and his wife made it a holiday resort far from the Parisian agitation. They received their artist friends there, such as the painter Matisse. The premises have been fitted out according to their wishes and embellished with works of art collected by the couple. This park planted with Marcel Sembat, a great lover of places and nature, greatly inspired his wife in her works. Today, the Agutte-Sembat house and its gardens have been purchased by the city of Bonnières and have become an institution.

With this portrait, Georgette Agutte emphasizes the youthful face, with the gentle-dreaming look of her model. His imposing flowered hat attracts our attention; he occupies the space in a majestic way. Sitting in front of the house in Bonnières in a garden chair, the young woman looks at us with restraint, revealing a certain shyness.
The shot is daring; the prerogative of the great painters. Like a cinematic close-up, this unusual framing gives a realistic and natural effect to the scene.
The sun shines abundantly on this moment of calm and tranquility. The artist uses the light by playing with the shadows cast on the youthful face.
The touch is sculpted, free, vibrant and the palette luminous.
The lush garden of the house in Bonnières, a familiar place for the artist, remains very present with a reminder of the flowers of the park on the flowered hat and on the top of the dress, adorned with a very graphic red flower that is found painted in other paintings of the artist.

Painter, sculptor and art collector, Georgette Agutte is a very free and independent-minded artist; at first strongly influenced by post-impressionism, she evolves, under the influence of her friend Matisse, towards a moderate fauvism. She is appreciated for the use of bold colors. The critics salute this talented colorist.
She first practiced sculpture.
Then, thanks to her first marriage to the critic Paul Flat, she met René Piot, a pupil of Gustave Moreau, around 1893, who encouraged her to follow the courses of this painter at the Ecole des Beaux-arts de Paris. There she meets, among others, Henri Matisse and Georges Rouault.
She works in a workshop located in Bonnières-sur-Seine in the birthplace of Marcel Sembat, patron and sincere friend of various avant-garde artists such as Matisse, Paul Signac, Maximilien Luce. She married him in 1897 and he became her lifelong companion.
From 1904, she exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants and participated in the creation of the Salon d’Automne, where she regularly exhibited.
From 1897 to 1922, the couple divided their time between their house in Bonnières-sur-Seine, their house in Paris at the foot of the Montmartre hill and a chalet – Le Murger – which they had built in Chamonix.
At the death of Marcel Sembat, Georgette Agutte does not want to survive the companion of her life and commits suicide after having written two sentences a bill “Here is twelve hours that he left. I am late”.

She bequeathed a large part of her collections to the Musée de Grenoble, helping to make it an important museum of contemporary art.

The poet and art critic Gustave Kahn organized a major retrospective of his paintings at the Salon d’Automne in 1922.