As William Camfield writes, already by the 1900s Picabia’s art and rapidly evolving aesthetic, drawing from Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism and Fauvism, “became an erratic course of conflicts between 'significant form' and 'emotional truth,' between spontaneous painterly instinct and deliberate craftsmanship, between sensuous indulgence with the visible world and private emotional-intellectual concerns” (William Camfield, op. cit., p. 16).
Picabia’s Impressionist period began in 1903 after he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants, the Salon de Mai, the Salon d’Automne and the Salon Annuel du Cercle Volney, the combination of which garnered him critical acclaim and financial success. Contemporaneously, Picabia became entranced by Camille Pissarro and Alfred Sisley’s paintings, leading him to experiment with a brighter palette and a freer, more expressive brushstroke, as in the present work. Here, Picabia masterfully captured the stunning effects of sunset on the water, using tones of blue in the buildings and dirt to create a harmonious, peaceful port scene.
True to the dramatic fashion in which he lived his life and directly coinciding with his marriage to Gabrielle Buffet, Picabia abruptly ended his Impressionist period in 1909, making a complete break with the aesthetic and selling more than one hundred Impressionist paintings, the present lot included, in a very successful auction at Hôtel Drouot in Paris.
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