Kees van Dongen (1877 - 1968)


Spanish Woman
Circa 1920-1922
    Watercolour and Indian ink on paper
49.8 × 32.1 cm
Signatures and Inscriptions
Signed ‘Van Dongen’ (lower right)

Private collection


Andros, Museum of Contemporary Art, Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Glancing at the Century, 28 June - 20 September 1998, pp. 40-41, ill. p. 41

Current location
Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Athens
Floor 2nd
Tour Guide Code
Audio Guide

When Kees van Dongen painted this watercolour, he was at the peak of his fame. Having lived for many years in extreme poverty, he was considered from that point forward one of the most lusted after artists and one of the most expensive portrait painters in Paris. Apart from the numerous personalities of the upper bourgeois class and the aristocracy he had immortalized with his brush, woman was still his favourite theme. He condensed all women’s aspects with the same precision, the same pleasure, the same skilfulness.

Van Dongen treated faces always in the same way: he enlarged the eyes and eyebrows, refined the rest of the face and the silhouette and conferred upon them, depending on his mood, an air of grace, elegance or satire. In the case of the Spanish Woman Van Dongen resumed a subject that had been dear to him since the early 1910s: that of a woman giving a sensual look behind a bushy bouquet of flowers. The treatment is light, absolutely spontaneous, assisted by the use of watercolour. The very soft pink applied on the flowers brightens up the monochrome figure of a gracious creature full of delicacy and elegance. It is undoubtedly the indistinct resemblance of this woman with Elise Goulandris who persuaded Basil to purchase it. And this is where the success of Van Dongen’s style lies in: with an utterly personal signature, he achieved to establish his own beauty rules of exceptional graciousness.



Kees van Dongen
(1877 - 1968)
French, Dutch
First Name
Cornelis Theodorus Maria (Kees)
Last Name
van Dongen
Rotterdam, Netherlands, 1877
Monte Carlo, Monaco, 1968