Jan 28, 2021 - Sale 2556

Sale 2556 - Lot 68

Price Realized: $ 18,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 6,000 - $ 9,000
EDMUND DULAC (1882-1953)
"They overtook him just as he reached the steps of the main porch." Illustration of Fatima's two brothers murdering Bluebeard, for the tale of Bluebeard, published in The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales. From the Old French, retold by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch. (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1910). Watercolor, pen and ink, with wash on board. 520x405 mm; 20 1/2x16 inches. Signed and dated "Edmund Dulac, `10" in lower right. Margins adhered to early stepped matte; contemporary inventory and exhibition labels from Ernest, Brown & Phillips, The Leicester Galleries titled "The Two Brothers of Fatima Kill Bluebeard" mounted to original backing board.

Provenance: David Lay Frics Gallery, 2019; thence to private collection.

Exhibited: Leicester Galleries, London, 1910, catalogue 131, no.17.

The tale of Bluebeard is the classic - and horrific - cautionary tale of greed and betrayal, written by Charles Perrault, the 17th century master of the fairy and folk tale genre. The story opens with the newly married Fatima living in the grand palace of her husband, Bluebeard, who allows her every domestic pleasure with one condition: she is never to open a particular locked closet. One day, however, Fatima's curiosity gets the best of her. She grabs the key the moment he's away and discovers the gruesome hidden secret behind the mysterious door: a room full of the murdered corpses of his former inquisitive wives. Terrified, she shuts the door and remains silent about her transgression, but when the enraged Blue Beard discovers the bloodied key to the door, he vows to add her to his collection for lying to him. In this painting, Dulac masterfully captured the dramatic moment when Fatima's brothers come to her rescue and attack her vengeful husband just before he is about to behead her. His composition sets the viewer at the corner of the tower room, offering us Fatima's perspective, rather than a close-up frontal one, demonstrating his command of mood and mystique.