Iwan Cerf born in Belgium, where he began his pictorial practice. In Liège, he joined the Academy of Fine Arts. Since turn-of-the-century art is created and lives in the artistic capital of Europe; he settled in Paris in 1901. From then on, he studied at the Beaux-Arts in Paris, at the studio of Hippolyte Lefèbvre (sculptor and painter, 1863 – 1935) and Tony Robert-Fleury (history painter, 1837 – 1912).
Once in Paris, the painter took advantage of the dynamism of the city to undertake his career and mark his time. He exhibited at the Salon from 1924 to 1940, at the Salon d’Automne from 1922 to 1942 and at the Salon des Tuileries from 1927 to 1929. His paintings range from portraits, genre scenes, to landscapes and still lifes.
From his landscapes, we retain the views of Provence and the mountains. Otherwise, he is inspired by the fantasies of the Middle East and the Far East: we know him an “Arab Woman” (1921). Rather than an idealistic vision, he prefers warm tones faithful to his model, which he depicts with simplicity and accuracy.
Iwan Cerf represents a seated young woman, from her left profile. He delicately paints the curve of his body. The painter pays attention to detail. Like a sculptor, he modulates the light to give volume and life to his drawing. One could, on the one hand, think of the legacy of Gauguin, who freely painted the young women of the Marquesas Islands in the 1890s.
Moreover, we know that Iwan Cerf has a great visual culture. It is not impossible that he took over the canon of the genre: the “Young Naked Man Seated by the Seaside”, 1835-1836, by Hippolyte Flandrin, exhibited at the Louvre Museum.
• Museum of Fine Arts of Liège
• Art. Vincent Pomarède, “Young naked man seated by the sea”, Paris, www.louvre.fr
• Art. “Ivan Cerf”, Bénézit Dictionary of Art, Oxford Art Online