|Kees van Dongen "Diversions" date unknown location unknown|
In 1901 van Dongen married fellow Academy student Juliana Augusta "Guus" Preitinger. The couple had moved to Paris some years previously. Van Dongen's first foray into the notoriety that was to be a leitmotif of his career came about with a large semi-nude portrait of his wife entitled "The Spanish Shawl" or "Tableau" which he painted in 1913. He exhibited it in that year's Salon d'Automne and it was considered so salacious and pornographic that it was removed from the exhibition by the police. Van Dongen seemed to have thrived upon the furor and publicity brought about by this incident, but it might have have ended up being a little hard on his wife. Not long afterwards, in 1914, Preitinger returned to the Netherlands with the couple's young daughter intending to make a long summer visit. With the sudden outbreak of World War One return to Paris was impossible. When Preitinger finally was able to return to Paris in 1918 she found van Dongen had "moved on", and was engaged in a relationship with another woman. The couple divorced in 1921.
Van Dongen had a long, remunerative and successful career. He worked not only as a fine artist and a newspaper sketchman, but also was highly sought after as a society portrait painter. He made additional money organizing very popular costume balls. In 1926, he was awarded the National Order of the Legion of Honor, and in 1927 the Order of the Crown of Belgium. In 1929, he became a French citizen. One of his famous sayings is "Painting is the most beautiful of lies."
note: There is little information about this painting, "Diversions", and it is the only painting I could find of van Dongen's that shows a woman painting. I wonder if it could possibly be a portrait of his wife, who was of course, trained as an artist, although there is little physical resemblance and the painting seems to be alluding to the fact that van Dongen's favorite diversions were women and painting, rather than honoring a particular artist. Preitinger, van Dongen's wife, is said to have continued her art career but I could not find any examples of her work, all web searches using her name(s) being instantly diverted into the overwhelming flood of information on Kees van Dongen. Any Dutch artists/art historians reading this, please contact me if you have information about Preitinger, or this painting "Diversions", such as the date it was painted and where it is located. I'd also love to know if there is any extant work by Preitinger.