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Reading A Book
By Adrien Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès
Signed ‘J. Le Mayeur’ (lower left)
Watercolour, pastel and black chalk on paper
Size: 70 x 55 centimetres
Estimated price: $5,000-7,000

The Belgian impressionist painter, Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès (1880-1958), also known as Jean Le Mayeur, arrived in Bali in 1932, where he met his muse and wife, Ni Nyoman Pollok and remained there for the rest of his life.

The Japanese occupation of Indonesia during World War II resulted in Le Mayeur being placed under house arrest by the authorities. He continued to paint using rice sack cloths for canvas. Tourism played a vital role in the international circulation of his work as travellers eagerly bought his art. In 1951, National Geographic commented, “though people wander in and out (of) their house all day, Le Mayeur’s hospitality is unending.” The artist’s house is now a museum in its original condition with over 80 works exhibited.

This painting, Reading a Book, may not feature Le Mayeur’s wife as the subject but it evocatively conveys the three things about life in Bali that he loved: beauty, sunlight and silence.

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 11, 2012.