“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.
Galerie Atelier Matignon, Paris.
Mr. and Mrs. James R. Holland, New York.
Private Collection, England; acquired from the above in March 2018.
Gladwell & Patterson, London; acquired from the above in April 2022.
The Authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Didier Imbert and this work is issued with a certificate of authenticity dated 2014.
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.
Le Chemin en Bord de Rivière is a masterful evocation of a breezy autumnal day. Painted at the turn of the century between 1899 and 1900, at the height of Loiseau’s Impressionist period, the work embodies the young artists influence of his Impressionist forebears, most notably that of Alfred Sisley and Claude Monet.
Painted en plein air, Loiseau set up his easel on the river bank to capture a lone figure walking along the tow path, isolated in the midst of nature and the broad expanse of the sweeping curve of the river. Despite the season, the present landscape is far from barren, the scene enlivened by thick and staccato impasto. His rich palette full of deep browns, bright reds and vibrant greens set against the cool blue of a nearing winter’s sky and the light purples of the trees on the horizon highlight Loiseau’s virtuosity with colour.
The Historiographer of the Seine
Painted at the turn of the century between 1899 and 1900, at the height of Loiseau’s Impressionist period, Le Chemin en Bord de Rivière embodies the young artists influence of his Impressionist forebears, most notably that of Alfred Sisley and Claude Monet. Painted en plein air, Loiseau set up his easel on the riverbank to capture a lone figure walking along the tow path, isolated in the midst of nature and the broad expanse of the sweeping curve of the river.
The period 1898 to 1900 is perhaps the most pivotal in defining the path of Loiseau’s career. With Durand-Ruel as his champion from 1898, when the artist would be given his first solo exhibition, Loiseau was for the first time financially secure enough to consistently travel the rivers of Northern France, his essential subject matter. While the advent of the railways had greatly increased the ease by which artists were able to travel between multiple centres, the long visits required by an artist of Loiseau’s calibre were still a considerable luxury. Thanks to this newfound freedom to travel, Loiseau laid a groundwork of river scenes like Le Chemin en Bord de Rivière which would eventually cultivate in his receiving the epithet ‘the Historiographer of the Seine’.
During 1899, Loiseau would travel further afield from Pontoise and Paris in search of new subject matter. It was during these trips that he first came across the region of Vaudreuil in Normandy, through which the Seine flowed. Along its banks were found the idyllic villages of Tournedos-sur-Seine and Porte-Joie. Delighted by the wealth of picturesque vistas and idyllic riverside painting locations, Loiseau became enraptured with the area, to the extent that he would eventually settle in Saint-Cyr-du-Vaudreuil in 1903.
The riverbanks of the Seine were clearly an enormous impetus for Loiseau’s style, for it was in 1899 that his early technique gave way to the virtuosic impressionist style for which the artist is best known as the artist produced a series of stunning riverscapes. Setting up his easel on the towpaths around Tournedos, Loiseau captured the boats, houses and trees of the Seine in all seasons and weather. Le Chemin en Bord de Rivière fits comfortably into this group of seminal 1899 works, displaying all the compositional maturity and technical ability that had secured Loiseau’s position as a leading post-Impressionist artist.
While Loiseau was heavily inspired by his Impressionist predecessors, it is important to recognise that the artist did much to expand upon their formula. Perhaps Loiseau’s most distinctive contribution to the legacy of Impressionism was his choice to capture unusual times of day and diverse weather conditions. Where painters like Monet typically sought to capture direct sunlight at its most brilliant at sunrise, midday, and twilight, Loiseau always looked to describe more complex conditions. Thus, he rarely painted landscapes with the sun at its zenith, flooding nature with its rays, instead he turned to morning mists, icy evenings, and overcast skies: seeking to depict the beauty of each in turn. Loiseau’s goal seems to have been to prove that nature is always beautiful, regardless of weather or time of day. It is an approach that crystallises the veracity which the Impressionists valued so highly, yet often put to one side in their repeated depictions of sunny afternoons. To Loiseau, true skill was finding beauty regardless of light and weather.
Le Chemin en Bord de Rivière is a brilliant example of the artist’s drive to capture more complex conditions. Despite the season, the present landscape is far from barren, the scene enlivened by thick and staccato impasto in the path, river and also the house. Here we admire Loiseau’s quick, sweeping brushstrokes across the sky, re-creating the clouds scudding across the cool autumnal sky. His rich palette full of deep browns, bright reds and vibrant greens set against the cool blue of a nearing winter’s sky and the light purples of the trees on the horizon highlight Loiseau’s virtuosity with colour. As usual, Loiseau has layered on the paint here with precision, building up the texture that is vibrant and interesting when viewed up close, and magical once we step back to admire the scene as a whole.
 J. Kyriazi, Gustave Loiseau: L’Historiographe de la Seine (Athens, 1979), 1.
Scholars have often noted that, considering his prodigious skill, it took Loiseau until his mid-thirties to gain the recognition he deserved. Yet the dramatic emergence of his mature style in 1899, as he explored the banks of the Seine, is testament to artist’s patience in perfecting his skills.
Le Chemin en Bord de Rivière stands as a paradigm for this crucial period in Loiseau’s career, using rich, spontaneous brushwork to expand the language with which impressionism was able to capture and describe complex weather and atmosphere. In this work, Loiseau transforms a windy autumnal day into a riot of colour and movement, animated with an astounding range of tones and hues.