head, torso, arms, and thighs of nude woman with red hair in an updo, wearing a white earring and black stockings with white garters; woman seen from PL side with hands resting on the top of her head and PR leg forward; white frame

Standing Nude with Stockings, 1911

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Nicknamed Leonardo by his friends in art school, Leo Gestel was one of the leading avant-garde artists in the Netherlands in the early 20th century, alongside Piet Mondrian. His female nudes at the 1911 international exhibition of the Moderne Kunstkring (Modern Art Circle) scandalized Amsterdam and were ultimately removed from the show. This monumental drawing, Standing Nude, might have been among the works censored in this exhibition. The model can be identified as An Overtoom, Gestel’s mistress and muse, whom he met in 1911, and later married. Gestel demonstrates his tremendous skill as a draftsman, modeling the curves of the female body and capturing the smooth flesh of the young model with the barest means—white and light gray pastel on buff paper.

This is a beautiful and rare example of Leo Gestel’s work that enriches our drawings collection as well as Mia’s very strong holdings of European art circa 1900. It is a masterful drawing of an age-old subject. Gestel is an important Dutch artist not well represented in American museum collections, and with the accession of this object Mia introduced this accomplished draftsman and painter to a wider audience.

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head, torso, arms, and thighs of nude woman with red hair in an updo, wearing a white earring and black stockings with white garters; woman seen from PL side with hands resting on the top of her head and PR leg forward; white frame