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Jane Marnac / Au Temps des Valses


Paul Colin
c. 1930

This is an original maquette by Paul Colin for a poster promoting Jane Marnac (1886-1976), a French preformer who was staging a revue of Noël Coward's 'Bitter Sweet' music as Au Temps de Valses. This maquette was recently discovered in Colin's studio, and it is a rare, personal example of his freehand use of color and line.

While the use of a strong diagonal is not a new development, Colin employs is masterfully. Shadow and light are created not by rigorous shading, but by the delicate use of watercolor, a suggestion of depth that Colin also utilizes to texture Marnac's costume. The blocky French Art Déco lettering creates a strong contrast to the delicate, cloudlike character of the image.

Colin remains famous for his relationship with Josephine Baker, but within the visual arts he is noted as a highly prolific designer who brought an emotional intensity to his work. Rather than protraying Marnac as an easygoing seductress, he accords her both sexuality and dignity. This is a portrait of a woman both in command of her environment and amused by it.

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