Kees van Dongen (January 26, 1877 - May 28, 1968), was a Dutch painter born in Delfshaven, in the suburbs of Rotterdam, and is generally known as "Kees van Dongen" or just "van Dongen". He was one of the les Fauves and gained a reputation for his sensuous, at times garish, portraits.
In 1892, at age 16, van Dongen started his studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Rotterdam. During this period from 1892 to 1897, van Dongen frequented the Red Quarter seaport area, where he drew scenes of sailors and prostitutes.
In 1897 he lived in Paris for several months. In December 1899 he returned to Paris to join Augusta Preitinger ("Guus"), whom he had met at the Academy. They married on July 11, 1901 (they divorced in 1921). He began to exhibit in Paris, including the controversial 1905 exhibition Salon d'Automne, in a room featuring Henri Matisse amongst others. The bright colours of this group of artists led to them being called Fauves ('Wild Beasts'). (He was also briefly a member of the German Expressionist group Die Br├╝cke.)
In 1906 the couple moved to the Bateau Lavoir at 13 rue Ravignan, where they were friends with the circle surrounding Pablo Picasso and his girlfriend Fernande Olivier.
In addition to selling his paintings, van Dongen also gained an income by selling satirical sketches to the newspaper 'Revue Blanche' and organising very successful costume balls in Montparnasse to gain extra income.
Under the influence of Jasmy Jacob, amongst others, Kees van Dongen developed the lush colours of his Fauvist style. This gained him a solid reputation with the French bourgeoisie and a resultant profitable lifestyle.
In 1926 he was awarded the Legion of Honour and in 1927 the Order of the Crown of Belgium. In 1929 he received French nationality and two of his works were admitted to the Luxembourg.
The social and commercial appeal of his later work (which includes a 1958 portrait of Brigitte Bardot) did not match the artistic promise or the bohemian eroticism of his earlier years.
Kees van Dongen died in his home in Monte Carlo in 1968.