The J. Paul Getty Museum

Jeanne Kéfer

Object Details


Jeanne Kéfer


Fernand Khnopff (Belgian, 1858 - 1921)






Oil on canvas

Object Number:



80 × 80 cm (31 1/2 × 31 1/2 in.)

See more

See less

Object Description

Fernand Khnopff depicted the daughter of a composer friend on a porch before a closed door, with her tiny thumb catching the edge of her bow as she reaches into her coat. With this small gesture, Khnopff captured the child's vulnerability and uncertainty in facing the outside world. To further evoke a child's perception of a world scaled for grown-ups, he framed Jeanne Kéfer's tiny body against the adult-sized door and tilted the floor ever so slightly.

Jeanne is further isolated by the free, abstract brushwork in the reflective door window behind her. Typical for Khnopff, Jeanne is not warm and inviting but cut off in the shallow background, a fixed, haunting gaze on her face.

Khnopff became a popular society portrait painter in the 1880s, using elements that served him well as an avant-garde Symbolist painter: visual realism and a mood of silence, isolation, and reverie. He frequently posed his models leaning against a closed door, flattening the space and resulting in a meditative, hermetically sealed image.

1885 -

Gustav Kéfer (Brussels, Belgium), commissioned from the artist, 1885.


Hugo Engle (Paris, France)

by 1957

Rapps Konsthandel (Stockholm, Sweden)

by 1987
by 1990

Private Collection [unsold, Christie's, London, November 30, 1990, lot 80.]

by 1997

Private Collection [unsold, Christie's, London, March 21, 1997, lot 44.]


Christie's (London), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997.

Les XX (1886)
  • Palais des beaux-arts (Brussels)
L'Art Indépendant (March to April, 1887)
  • Palais De L'Industrie, Des Arts Et Du Commerce (Antwerp)
Society of Portrait Painters (Second Exhibition) (1892)
  • Royal Institute (London)
Festa dell'arte e dei fiori (December 19, 1896 to March 31, 1897)
  • Unknown, December 19, 1896 to March 31, 1897
Internationalen Kunst-Ausstellung des Vereins bildender Künstler Münchens (A. V.) "Secession" 1898 (1898)
  • Königliche Kunstausstellungsgebäude (Munich)
Fernand Khnopff et ses rapports avec la Secession viennoise (October 2 to December 6, 1987)
  • Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique (Brussels), October 2 to December 6, 1987
Fernand Khnopff (June 8 to November 11, 1990)
  • The Bunkamura Museum of Art (Tokyo), June 8 to July 8, 1990
  • Himeji City Museum of Art (Himeji), July 14 to August 12, 1990
  • Nagoya City Art Museum (Nagoya), August 18 to September 30, 1990
  • Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art (Kofu-shi), October 7 to November 11, 1990
Impressionism to Symbolism: The Belgian Avant-Garde, 1880-1900 (July 7 to October 2, 1994)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), July 7 to October 2, 1994
Du réalisme au symbolisme: l'avant-garde belge, 1880-1900 (July 8 to October 15, 1995)
  • Fondation Saint-Jean (Bruges), July 8 to October 15, 1995
Fernand Khnopff (1858-1921) (January 16 to September 26, 2004)
  • Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique (Brussels), January 16 to May 9, 2004
Pictorialist Photography and Painting (May 22 to September 7, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 22 to September 7, 2014

Les XX, Bruxelles: catalogue, 1885, exh. cat. (1885). Repr. in Les XX, Bruxelles: catalogue des dix expositions annuelles (Brussels: Centre international pour l'étude du XIXe siècle, 1981), p. 51, no. 3.

A. C. "Salon des XX." La Réforme. Organe quotidien de la démocratie libérale (February 18, 1886).

Verdavainne, Georges. "L'Exposition des XX." La fédération artistique 13, no. 16 (February 13, 1886), p. 124.

Les XX, Bruxelles: 1886, exh. cat. (1886). Repr. in Les XX, Bruxelles: catalogue des dix expositions annuelles (Brussels: Centre international pour l'étude du XIXe siècle, 1981), p. 80, no. 4.

"Exposition de l'art indépendant à Anvers." Journal des beaux-arts et de la littérature 29, no. 6 (March 31, 1887), p. 46.

Premier salon annuel de L'Art Indépendant. Catalogue avec une introduction de Camille Lemonnier, exh. cat. (Brussels: Imprimerie Veuve Monnom, 1887), p. 11, no. 85.

Society of Portrait Painters. Catalogue of the Second Exhibition, exh. cat. (London: Royal Institute, 1892), p. 29, no. 166.

Taeye, Edmond-Louis de. Les artistes belges contemporains: leur vie, leurs oeuvres, leur place dans l'art (Brussels: Alfred Castaigne, 1894), p. 742.

Festa dell'arte e dei fiori, 1896-1897. Catalogo della esposizione di belle arti, exh. cat. (Florence: Salvadore Landi, 1896), p. 28, no. 44.

Offizieller Katalog der internationalen Kunst-Ausstellung des Vereins bildender Künstler Münchens (A. V.) "Secession" 1898: im kgl. Kunstausstellungsgebäude am Königsplatz gegenüber der Glyptothek, exh. cat. (Munich: F. Bruckmann, 1898), p. 19, no. 100, ill.

Jugend, 4th yr., 1, no. 1 (January 1, 1899), p. 4, ill.

Schultze-Naumburg, Paul. "Fernand Khnopff." Die Kunst für Alle 15, no. 19 (July 1, 1900), pp. 440, 447, ill.

Pica, Vittorio. "Artisti contemporanei: Fernand Khnopff." Emporium 16, no. 93 (September 1902), pp. 173, 183, ill.

Sarfatti, Margherita G. "Profili d'artisti: Fernand Khnopff." Il rinascimento 2, no. 11 (April 20, 1906), p. 64.

Dumont-Wilden, Louis. Fernand Khnopff (Brussels: G. van Oest & Cie., 1907), p. 22.

Biermé, Maria. Les artistes de la pensée et du sentiment (Brussels: La Belgique artistique et littéraire, 1911), app. ("Oeuvres de Fernand Khnopff"), p. 2.

Lambotte, Paul. Les peintres de portraits; collection de l'art belge au XIXe siècle (Brussels: G. van Oest & Cie., 1913), p. 125.

Delevoy, Robert L., Catherine de Croës, and Gisèle Ollinger-Zinque. Fernand Khnopff (Lausanne and Paris: La Bibliothèque des arts, 1979), pp. 231-32, no. 82, ill.

Kerckhoven, Marc van. "Fernand Khnopff en de muziek." Bulletin des musées royaux des beaux-arts de Belgique 30-33, nos. 1-3 (1981-84), p. 168.

Delevoy, Robert L., Catherine de Croës, and Gisèle Ollinger-Zinque. Fernand Khnopff. 2nd ed., rev. (Brussels: Lebeer Hossmann, 1987), pp. 231-32, 417, no. 82, ill.

Croës, Catherine de, and Gisèle Ollinger-Zinque, eds. Fernand Khnopff et ses rapports avec la Secession viennoise, exh. cat. (Brussels: Musées royaux des beaux-arts de Belgique, 1987), p. 114, no. 24, ill.

Fernand Khnopff, exh. cat. (Tokyo: Tokyo Shimbun, 1990), pp. 74-75, no. 5, ill.

Palmer, Michael. From Ensor to Magritte: Belgian Art, 1880-1940 (Brussels: Éditions Racine, 1994), pp. 95, 228, fig. 95.

Stevens, MaryAnne, et al., eds. Impressionism to Symbolism: The Belgian Avant-Garde 1880-1900, exh. cat. (London: Royal Academy of Arts, with Ludion, 1994), pp. 142-43, no. 29, ill., entry by Gisèle Ollinger-Zinque.

Draguet, Michel. Khnopff, ou l'ambigu poétique (Ghent: Snoeck-Ducaju & Zoon; Brussels: Crédit Communal, 1995), pp. 81-82, 83, fig. 90.

Stevens, MaryAnne, et al., eds. Du réalisme au symbolisme: l'avant-garde belge 1880-1900, exh. cat. (Bruges: Fondation Saint-Jean, with Ludion, 1995), pp. 148-49, no. 32, ill., entry by Gisèle Ollinger-Zinque.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 67, ill.

"A Selection of 1997 Museum Acquisitions." Apollo 146, no. 430 (December 1997), p. 6, ill.

Christie's, London. 19th Century Continental Pictures, Watercolours and Drawings. March 21, 1997, pp. 44-45, lot 44, ill.

Sotheby's, London. 19th Century European Paintings, Including the Scandinavian Sale. June 13, 2002, p. 126, under lot 224, fig. 1.

Allen, Denise, et al. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, with Thames & Hudson, 2003), pp. 118-19, no. 65, ill., entry by Charlotte Eyerman.

Leen, Frederick, et al., eds. Fernand Khnopff (1858-1921), exh. cat. (Brussels: Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, 2004), pp. 145, 147, no. 79, ill., entry by Inga Rossi-Schrimpf.

West, Shearer. Portraiture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 135-36, fig. 84.

Draguet, Michel. Portrait of Jeanne Kéfer (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Trust, 2004), passim, figs. 1, 22-23, 30, 42-43, 51-52, 54-56, 62, 67, cover ill.

Rosenberg, Pierre. Only in America: One Hundred Paintings in American Museums Unmatched in European Collections. Susan Wise, trans. (Milan: Skira, 2006), pp. 192-93, 232, ill.

Allard, Sébastien, Nadeije Laneyrie-Dagen, and Emmanuel Pernoud. L'Enfant dans la peinture (Paris: Citadelles & Mazenod, 2011), pp. 297, 299-300, fig. 258.

Fredericksen, Burton B. The Burdens of Wealth: Paul Getty and His Museum (Bloomington: Archway Publishing, 2015), pp. 335-36.

Allan, Scott, Davide Gasparotto, Peter Björn Kerber, and Anne T. Woollett. Masterpieces of Painting: J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2018), pp. 17, 125, ill.