Paul Guillaume and the Dutch painter Kees Van Dongen had known each other for a long time when the latter produced the portrait of the art dealer. Indeed, Paul Guillaume had organised an exhibition dedicated to the artist in March 1918, featuring twenty-five of his works. Van Dongen moved to Paris shortly after and developed a career as a portrait painter. Twelve years later, Paul Guillaume had become a renowned art dealer while Van Dongen had become a famous artist.
Paul Guillaume is depicted here wearing the ribbon of the Ordre de la Légion d‘Honneur (French Legion of Honour). He received this decoration on 7 April 1930 as the publisher and art critic for his magazine Les Arts à Paris. He was appointed to the Order by his colleague, the already legendary art dealer Ambroise Vollard (1866-1939). This portrait may have been commissioned shortly after in order to showcase this decoration. Van Dongen chose a subtle harmony of grey and blue for this work. Paul Guillaume is portrayed with a confident demeanour, looking away from the viewer. The blue of his double-breasted suit, the latest trend at the time, can also be seen in his bow tie, the colour of his eyes and the highlights in his hair. The grey background is lighter around his head, so as to enhance it. The red ribbon of the Légion d’Honneur is clearly visible, in the same way as the artist's signature.
Provenance: Paul Guillaume; Domenica Walter