Alice Bailly
Portrait d’Arthur Honegger au « Roi David » (Portrait of Arthur Honegger at “King David”), 1921-1922

  • Alice Bailly (Genève, 1872 - Lausanne, 1938)
  • Portrait d’Arthur Honegger au « Roi David » (Portrait of Arthur Honegger at “King David”), 1921-1922
  • Oil on canvas, 82 x 66,5 cm
  • Gift of the Archives culturelles romandes, 2002
  • Inv. 2002-080
  • © Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne

The sonorous, clashing rhythms and strident colours which fill Alice Bailly’s work reflect the crucial role music played in her understanding of the world around her. She attended the 1913 premier of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in Paris and was one of the small circle invited in 1914 to a futurist concert by Giorgio de Chirico’s brother Alberto Savinio, along with Pablo Picasso, Alexander Archipenko, and Guillaume Apollinaire. In 1923, she admired Natalia Goncharova’s sets and costumes at the premier for Stravinsky’s Les Noces.

In 1918, Alice Bailly grew close to her most eminent patron, Werner Reinhart, who also founded the Winterthur Musikkollegium. They frequently discussed their shared passion for contemporary music. Early in the 1920s she listed the Swiss composer Arthur Honegger among her favourites, alongside Stravinsky. On June 11, 1921, she travelled to Mézières to attend the premier of King David at the Théâtre du Jorat. The “Hindu” and “Biblical” drama by René Morax, partly financed by Werner Reinhart, featured music by Honegger and stage sets by Alexandre Cingria. She later returned for the last two performances.

This is the second version of a portrait of Honegger. The first is in a private collection. The composer is shown smoking a pipe with King David’s harp over his heart. In the background are actors in costume. The balanced palette of greens, ochres and reds and the harmonious play of curves and counter-curves merge the composer and the fruit of his imagination into a single reality.


Paul-André Jaccard, Alice Bailly. La fête étrange, exh. cat. Lausanne, Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Milan, 5 Continents Editions, 2005.

Georges Duplain, L’homme aux mains d’or. Werner Reinhart, Rilke et les créateurs de Suisse romande, Lausanne, Éditions 24 Heures, 1988.