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Portrait of W. S. Davenport

Kees van Dongen

European Art

Kees van Dongen made a splash in 1920s Paris chronicling the city’s high society. His winning formula, exemplified here, involved placing his sitters against a neutral backdrop and punctuating the composition with brilliant—even supernatural—color.

For his portrait of W. S. Davenport, an American dentist living in Paris, van Dongen added blue-green highlights to the face and a bright red brushstroke to the lapel. That red accent depicts a red thread that indicates Davenport’s knighthood in the exclusive Legion of Honor, awarded for his pioneering of facial reconstruction surgery during World War I.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES ca. 1925
    DIMENSIONS 86 11/16 x 51 9/16 in. (220.2 x 131 cm) frame: 95 × 59 × 3 1/2 in. (241.3 × 149.9 × 8.9 cm)
    SIGNATURE Signed lower right: "k/v Dongen"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William Slocum Davenport
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