Thursday, October 12, 2017

Did Rusinol paint a double portrait of Satie and Valadon?

Here is a painting by Santiago Rusinol painted in 1894 called "A Romance" - does this portray Erik Satie and Suzanne Valadon together?

"A Romance" by Rusinol 

We know that Rusinol had painted Satie.

Portrait of Eric Satie at the harmonium

Portrait of Suzanne Valadon,
in a blue dress, black shawl and black hat

The painting "A Romance" is dated 1894, which would be two years after their brief Satie/Valadon relationship was over.

The museum housing the piece identifies the man as Satie - and it certainly looks like him, based on all the paintings of him. 

But is that Valadon? For one thing, the painting is called "A Romance" and it is said that the only romance Satie ever had was with Valadon. 

However, Valadon was not known to be able to read music, and the woman playing the piano is clearly reading from sheet music. And a "Romance" is a type of classical music composition.

Also this person on Pinterest identifies the woman as Stephanie Nantas, a frequent model for Rusinol, to whom Satie dedicated his waltz Poudre D'or (Gold Powder).

But it would be nice to have a painting of the two of them together. Which is probably why  this website identifies the people in the image as Satie and Valadon although they don't provide any evidence for that claim.

This painting is called "Laughing Girl" but I've seen it claimed online that this is Suzanne Valadon, and I think it definitely looks like her - and that is how she liked to wear her hair. But what an unusual image from that time period. A woman grinning full-face right at the viewer with her arm in a very awkward position - it looks like it could be based on a photo.

But what is the deal with those spidery hands? Rusinol could paint anything beautifully - except for his weird hang-up with hands.