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a word on art

Gustave Loiseau-La Criée aux Poissons à Fécamp

“I would attribute only one quality to myself: that of being sincere. I work in privacy, when able, and strive to translate as best I can the impressions I receive from nature.”

-Gustave Loiseau to Thiébault-Sisson, 1930.



Provenance

The artist.

Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris (Stock Number 12395) and Galerie Georges Petit; jointly acquired from the artist on 28 May 1925.

Goupil Gallery, London; acquired on 9 August 1927.

Wally Finlay Gallery, USA.

John McDonough, USA.

Estate of John McDonough; Parke Bernet, New York, 12 December 1968.

Ernest Brown & Phillips Ltd., The Leicester Galleries, London.

Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal, Canada.

Private Collection, USA.

Sale; Millon, Paris, 23 November 2016, Lot 49.

Private Collection, France; acquired at the above sale.

Gladwell & Patterson, London; acquired at the above sale.

 

 

Exhibited

Goupil Gallery, London, The French Impressionists and Others, 1 June - 16 July 1927

C. Duvivier, Gustave Loiseau – Paysages d’Île-de-France et de Normandie, Exh. Cat., Musée de Camille Pissarro, Pontoise, 2018

Ferme Ornée-Propriété Caillebotte, Paul Durand-Ruel and Post-Impressionism, 19 May - 14 November 2021

 

 

Literature

Musée de Camille Pissarro, Gustave Loiseau – Paysages d’Île-de-France et de Normandie, Pontoise, 2018 (illustrated on p.112)

 


This work will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné being prepared by Didier Imbert.



Introduction

One of the foremost Post-Impressionist painters, Gustave Loiseau was profoundly influenced by the great masterpieces of the Impressionists. A champion of painting the landscape en plein air, Loiseau embraced the use of bold colour as he explored and expanded the Impressionist style.


The 1920s was a period of great exploration for Loiseau. La Criée aux Poissons à Fécamp, painted in 1925, is an outstanding work from one of the most important series of Loiseau’s urban views outside Paris. The bustling fish market in the port at Fécamp in Normandy, is brilliantly evoked by the artist’s handling of paint and lively en trellis brushstrokes. Loiseau applied this unique technique to the architecture and the hills in the distance. A homogeneous and yet vibrating colour structure is created by his staccato-like brushwork, developed from the pointillism of Seurat and Signac.




Fécamp

Like his impressionist forebears, Loiseau travelled extensively to Normandy, Brittany and the Dordogne, seeking out suitable subject matter. Fécamp had been a popular destination of the Impressionists, with Claude Monet frequenting the town and the coastal paths from the 1880s onwards.[1]


Surrounded by the tallest cliffs in Normandy, reaching over three-hundred feet tall, Fécamp stands in a dramatic location along the coast, fifteen kilometres east of Étretat. The picturesque fishing port offered a rich supply of subject matter; sailing ships docked the port, the spray-swept jetty and outside the town a plentiful supply of majestic cliffs. Loiseau’s Fécamp paintings reveal the influence of Monet on the younger artists oeuvre and simultaneously show how the younger artist surpassed the impressionist style by imbuing his work with a startling kineticism of textured brushstrokes.




Monet painted in Fécamp in the spring of 1881, and depicted many viewpoints of both the cliffs and the port during his stay in the town. Monet particularly delighted in capturing the sea views on the cliff edge, where he painted ‘vertiginous views down over the ocean.’[2] Over twenty years later, in 1902, Loiseau returned to this exact same location to capture the landscape under his distinctive post-impressionist brush. The textured surface and staccato-like brushwork of Loiseau’s canvases, were developed from Loiseau’s influence of the pointillism of Seurat and Signac, and reveals the progression of his style from the more fluid brushstrokes of Monet.


By the 1920s, Fécamp had become a popular seaside resort, with a casino, charming hotels and plentiful leisure facilities. Loiseau is recorded in Fécamp in 1920, 1924 and in 1925 and on each visit he produced numerous scenes of the bustling port and fishing boats.


[1] D. Wildenstein, Monet, Catalogue Raisonné Vol II, Wildenstein Institute, 1996, p.244-251 (Wildenstein Nos. 644-665)

[2] D. Wildenstein, Monet or the Triumph of Impressionism; Monet, Catalogue Raisonné Vol I, Wildenstein Institute, 1996, p.166



 

Loiseau and “Series Painting”

Loiseau’s output in the 1920s focuses largely on his series paintings; multiple canvases of the same subject where the artist thoroughly investigated the different atmospheric conditions or physical changes to one viewpoint or landscape. This practice emerged in conjunction with the growing preference among artists to work directly from nature and to work outside, en plein-air, and was brought to its extreme by Claude Monet; most notably the latter’s series of twenty-four views of poplars on the bank of the Epte in the spring of 1891. Monet’s practice of moving from canvas to canvas and working with the changing light throughout the day, was replicated by many followers of Impressionism, particularly Loiseau.


Loiseau had embraced the genre of series painting at the turn of the century in one of his most emblematic subjects: poplars by a riverside. Duvivier argues that after 1905, Loiseau began to increasingly focus on a smaller group of emblematic subjects, studying them more deeply and recording them throughout the changing seasons.[1] His most notable series are those from the 1920s; Rue de Clignancourt, La Place de l’Étoile, La Place de la Bastille, all of which were painted from an elevated viewpoint near his apartment in Paris. The Fécamp paintings of 1925 are the most important series of Loiseau’s urban views outside Paris and La Criée aux Poissons à Fécamp is one of the most spectacular and enlivened of these works.


The 1925 Fécamp series reveals Loiseau’s approach to the systematic exploration of a series of views of the same subject in this latter part of his artistic career. Focused upon a single compositional device, the artist thoroughly investigated the movements of the fishing boats and shifting patterns of crowds upon the Quai, revealing his focus was not only on the effects of weather and light but also on the atmosphere created by changes in activity of boats, fishermen and tourists. 


Compositionally, the elevation of La Criée aux Poissons à Fécamp is crucial to giving the viewer a clear picture of the angular Port de Fécamp and allowed the artist to look down on the boats and fishermen in the port, with the port authority buildings beyond and the rolling hills of the surrounding countryside beyond.The viewer’s eye is drawn over the lively Quai and to the façades of the buildings illuminated by the sun. It is a painting full of energy and joy, and where every inch of the canvas has been skillfully employed to seize the atmosphere of the day. 

 

 



Style and Technique

By 1925, when Loiseau painted La Criée aux Poissons à Fécamp, he had already enjoyed considerable success both in Paris and abroad, where he was emerging as one of the few artists that were able to expand and seek new aspects of the Impressionist style.  In his quest to create movement and light, Loiseau had developed a distinct style of the ‘cross hatching’ technique, referred to as en treillis (latticework), thereby creating the supple and ephemeral quality for which his work is known. These later works, characterised by a homogeneous and yet vibrating colour structure formed through staccato-like brushwork, was developed from Loiseau’s influence of the pointillism of Georges Seurat and Paul Signac. Loiseau’s use of his characteristic en trellis brushwork became more and more pronounced during the 1920s. Where at the start of the decade he applied the technique sparsely, by the end of this period Loiseau was routinely suffusing his works in the cross-hatched matrix.


Loiseau’s use of his characteristic en trellis brushwork became more and more pronounced during the 1920s. Where at the start of the decade he applied the technique sparsely, by the end of this period Loiseau was routinely suffusing his works in the cross-hatched matrix. Against the more constrained brushwork of the sky and foreground, the rich lattice of strokes that make up the hills and the buildings help them project out visually from the painting’s surface. While the artist’s canvases are always richly textured with an abundance of thick impasto, La Criée aux Poissons à Fécamp takes the technique to its logical conclusion, rendering the image’s focal point in almost three dimensions.


The great attention given to the Port buildings and the angular Quai in the present work is emblematic of Loiseau’s increasing interest in architecture in his late career. While his canvases of the early 1900s had largely focused on isolated river views, an increasing time spent in Paris had clearly led to a greater appreciation of the urban environment. Loiseau would first turn to architecture in his depictions of Pont-Aven, Moret-sur-Loing and the boulevards of Paris, but by the mid 1920s, the urban environment became his preferred subject. Thus, with its thick outlines and aforementioned brushwork, the representation of the Port at Fécamp is a culmination of the artist’s journey towards understanding and capturing architecture.




Provenance

La Criée aux Poissons à Fécamp was purchased jointly by Galerie Georges Petit and Galerie Durand-Ruel in May 1925. Durand Ruel championed the work of Loiseau and his fellow post-impressionist painters and held numerous solo exhibitions of Loiseau’s work during the artists lifetime and following his death. Durand-Ruel held a requirement of exclusivity with his artists[2], but from 1923 onwards, Durand-Ruel frequently partnered with Galerie Georges Petit to acquire works by Loiseau. Georges Petit had been the fellow titan of the Parisian artworld to Paul Durand-Ruel and had also sought to promote the impressionists and post-impressionists. Upon Georges Petit’s death in 1920, the gallery was acquired by Étienne Bignou and the art dealers Gaston and Josse Bernheim-Jeune, who ran Galerie Georges Petit predominantly as an auction house until 1933 when it closed for good. Under this new leadership, in 1923, Durand-Ruel joined forces with and Galerie Georges Petit purchase fourteen paintings by Loiseau.[3] In the preceding years, many works, including La Criée aux Poissons à Fécamp, were jointly acquired by both galleries. As joint investors of Loiseau’s work, his paintings could be disseminated to a wider audience in Paris and internationally.

 

La Criée aux Poissons à Fécamp was exhibited at Goupil Gallery in London in the summer of 1927, in a joint French Impressionist exhibition. The British branch of Goupil & Cie., Paris was one of many dealers that wholeheartedly embraced the Impressionist market, and the gallery subsequently acquired this painting from Durand-Ruel and Georges Petit. The painting has since graced prestigious collector’s walls in Canada, America and we are delighted to exhibit the painting at Gladwell & Patterson today.

 



Conclusion

La Criée aux Poissons à Fécamp offers a lively and bustling scene that Loiseau delighted in recording many times over the spring of 1925. The painting is revered for the artist’s use of kinetic brushstrokes, which imbue this remarkable painting with a profound energy and vibrancy. The harmonious colour, the juxtaposition of curved and diagonal lines, and the abundance of short staccato-like strokes of pigment reveal this work as one of Loiseau’s finest visions of Fécamp in the mid 1920s. The remarkable provenance of the work, its acquisition so soon after the artists had completed the work by both Georges Petit and Durand-Ruel reveal how celebrated Loiseau’s mature style was in the 1920s and remains to this day.


[1] C. Duvivier, Gustave Loiseau – Paysages d’Île-de-France et de Normandie, Exh. Cat., Musée de Camille Pissarro, Pontoise, 2018, p.20.

[2] Exh. Cat. Paul Durand-Ruel et le post-impressionnisme, La Propriété Caillebotte, Paris, 2020, p.137

[3] Exh. Cat. Paul Durand-Ruel et le post-impressionnisme, La Propriété Caillebotte, Paris, 2020, p.142





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