31.1 by 22.9 cm.
ProvenanceJane Roberts Fine Art, Paris
“More than any other artist, Somm is the painter of the Parisienne; not the Society woman, but the prettily dressed girl who runs the streets, her nose in the air, laughing unceremoniously at the compliments of the passers-by, and who sometimes enter the Moulin-Rouge or the Elysée-Montmartre […] it is the choice of a man of wit such as Somm is one of the finest humorists of this subtle milieu of Montmatre.” In 1893, these words by Louis Morin, the leading spirit of the Chat noir, introduce perfectly the watercolor at hand, where an elegant lady, probably a prostitute, is wondering around the Bois de Boulogne, searching for rich clients. The unusual angle, the acid green tonality and the black outlines, which serve to compartmentalize the composition, recall the practices of many Impressionist artists at the time, as well as Somm’s own stylistic assimilation of the principles introduced in Japanese prints. His careful attention to light creates the freshness of color also found in the paintings of Édouard Manet and the Impressionists. This work reveals Somm’s mastery of watercolor and talent that encompassed the humorous illustrations and caricatures published in journals that made his success.