Mrs Richard Le Doux1892 by Vlaho Bukovac

From the collection of
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

The artist visited the home of the Le Doux family in Marfield, West Derby, Liverpool both in 1891 and 1892. On the second occasion he stayed for a month and painted Mrs. Richard le Doux as well as her husband. Mr. Le Doux owned a considerable collection of his work, including another seated portrait of Mrs. Le Doux, all of which are now lost, except this piece. This painting was shown in the Paris Salon where it was extensively reviewed.

The Croatian artist Vlaho Bukovac (1855-1922) is well-known in Central Europe and the Balkans. He was one of the founders of a modern, Western tradition of painting in that region in the late 19th century. Trained in Paris at a time when Impressionism was catching the public imagination, he painted grand literary and religious scenes, nudes (a benchmark of the classical taste against which Impressionism rebelled) and portraits. Overcoming his initial poverty, he was soon successful, and gained a high reputation in Paris. Bukovac learnt English when living in America in his early teens, and he first visited England aged 16, when he docked in Liverpool on board a merchant ship. From the mid-1880s to the First World War, he regularly came to England, where many of his most popular pictures were imported by the London dealers, Vicars Bros. They included his grand religious masterpiece, 'Suffer the Little Children to Come to Me', and three nude subjects: 'The White Slave', 'Potiphar’s Wife' and 'Adam and Eve'. In Britain, Bukovac painted portraits of Vicars’s clients. Among them were two of the best patrons he would ever have: Samson Fox of Harrogate and Richard LeDoux of Liverpool. Fox and LeDoux helped change Bukovac’s image. Vicars had marketed Bukovac crudely, as a painter with ‘Parisian’ morals. They treated him as a gentleman, lavished hospitality on him and introduced him to their families and circles of friends. Bukovac’s portraits of them reveal him at his best, as a sensitive and technically accomplished artist.
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