David Ossipovitch Widhopff (1867-1933)
Arranging the Bouquet,
signed and dated, "1914',
oil on canvas,
28¾ x 23 inches
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This delicate scene depicting a moment of peace and calm in an elegant interior bears an added poignancy when one considers the year (1914) it was painted. The exact date is not known, so one can only speculate whether the artist has unknowingly captured a moment of calm before the catastrophic events of the First World War unfurled from August onwards or whether he has chosen to encapsulate a snapshot of serenity as the skies darkened over Europe and beyond. When viewed today, the tranquility of this scene is given a fragility that almost impels the viewer to step back and exhale gently.
David Ossipovitch Widhopff was born in Odessa, Ukraine. In 1887, after attending the Munich Academy, he moved to Paris where he entered the Académie Julian, studying under Tony Robert-Fleury and Jules Joseph Lefebvre. After his time at the Académie he travelled to Brazil where he established a fine-art school in the state of Pará. On his return to Paris, he settled in Montmartre where he befriended Alfons Mucha and many of the Belle Époque artists. The spirit of this time is very much apparent in the highly stylised illustrations he produced for such publications as le Courrier Francais. His flair for illustration was spotted by Ambroise Vollard, one of the most prominent dealers of the time, who commissioned him to produce posters from around 1900 onwards.
He exhibited extensively during his lifetime at the Paris Salon (1888, 1891 and 1893) and elsewhere.