As a Swiss citizen, Alice Bailly was forced to leave Paris during the First World War and struggled to make a living in Geneva. Most of her admirers were in German-speaking Switzerland. In Winterthur, where collectors interested in modern art had helped bring about the creation of a new museum in 1916, she met the patron Werner Reinhart, who would continue to support her for the rest of her life. She also met Arthur and Hedy Hahnloser, whose company she kept regularly from 1918 to 1920 and who invited her to stay at Villa Flora, where their rich collection of contemporary art was displayed.
Le concert dans le jardin is one of the works inspired by Bailly’s visits to Villa Flora. There she saw open-air performances organised by the Hahnlosers, who shared her passion for music. Several sketches were made in Winterthur and the painting was executed in Paris, where the artist returned to live in 1920. A young man, two teenagers, a cat and a goat are gathered around a piano quartet. The model for one of the violinists was the collector Richard Bühler’s sister-in-law. The figure of the pianist Maria de Senger comes from an earlier painting La Sonate à Dukas (1918, Collection Crédit Suisse Group).
Having assimilated the advances of fauvism, cubism and futurism, the early 1920s saw Bailly move towards a new kind of stylisation, while renouncing none of her chromatic vigour. On this nearly square canvas, the curves organising the eddying composition spread amply and supply around the piano keyboard, from which they seem to emanate. The speed of musical execution is conveyed by the multiplication of hands. The tubular, shaded forms and the complementary hues of green and orange interlock and fuse on a flat space that, as a portion of reality filtered by a heightened sensibility, expresses a belief in the power of universal dynamism.
Margrit Hahnloser-Ingold (ed.), Van Gogh, Bonnard, Vallotton. La collection Arthur et Hedy Hahnloser, Lausanne, La Bibliothèque des Arts, 2011.
Paul-André Jaccard, Alice Bailly. La fête étrange, exh. cat. Lausanne, Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Milan, 5 Continents Editions, 2005: n. 153.