Le Palais des Merveilles by Clovis Trouille

Le Palais des Merveilles, 1907 – 1927
Clovis Trouille, Le Palais des Merveilles, 1907 – 1927

Le Palais des Merveilles (1907-1927) is a celebration of life and sexuality. The figures are the most significant component of the painting’s narrative, depicting the theatrics of life. There are nine women and one man, ten women if you include a small statuette which stands on the far right of the canvas. The skin tones of the women are varied, although mostly Caucasian, there is one black woman, who is gypsy-like, with each woman depicting her own character. These bare-breasted maidens, ooze with sexuality, with sexual connotations in the hands of many. It is a celebration of the body, of want and desire. But it is also a celebration of individuality. Slightly before Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) stunned the world with her sexualised floral portraits, Trouille was already parading them in his paintings, as can be seen in the top left section of the canvas, and on the set-piece behind the ladies at the front. Within the narrative of this painting, it is very hard to believe that any element that Trouille painted was not intended, hence the cleanliness of many of his backgrounds. The story is often the characters within the painting, rather than the narrative of the setting. The women have a very similar appearance in body which makes me believe that this is what Trouille viewed as the perfect figure. Each woman has delicate beauty; however, each character has her own hair colour and style, often an up-do. Trouille is a master of colour. Although the colours in Le Palais des Merveilles are balanced with bright and muted strokes applied to their attire, he has captured the individuality of each woman and matched the colours effortlessly. He is simply a master of understanding the important elements that make up the narrative, and delivers it with detail of spectacular precision. He uses block colour effectively, often for the background, but sometimes within their clothing, such as the man in the centre who adorns very little detail, whereas there is an incredibly amount of detail in the fabric which is embroidered or embellished in some way. It is a familiar palette, preferred by Trouille, which, along with his women, aids as a signature to his artwork.

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