Hans-Wilke Freiherr von Bodenhausen, Degenerhausen (by descent from the above in 1918)
Reinild Freiin von Bodenhausen, Berlin (by descent from the above in 1937)
Dr. Alfred Keichel, Dusseldorf (gift of Anga Freiin von Bodenhausen in 1946)
Hermann & Carola Schulte, Berlin (by 1946)
Private Collection, Dusseldorf (by descent from the above and sold: Sotheby’s, London, December 1, 1987, lot 23)
Peter von Jena, Berlin (sold: Sotheby’s, London, December 1, 1987, lot 23)
Alain Delon, Paris (acquired at the above sale and sold: Christie’s, New York, May 12, 1993, lot 23)
Acquired at the above sale
Dresden, Galerie Arnhold, Exposition de Peintres Néo-Impressionnistes, 1901, n.n.
Cologne, Städtische Ausstellungshalle am Aachener Tor, Internationale Kunstausstellung des Sonderbundes Westdeutscher Kunstfreunde und Künstler zu Köln, 1912, no. 191
Cologne, Städtische Ausstellungshalle, Pin de Bertrand 1900 Besitzer Eberhard Freiherr von Bodenhausen Bredeneg Essen, 1922, no. 191
Paris, Salon des Indépendants, 1936, no. 3055
Dusseldorf, Kunsthalle, Paul Signac, 1952, no. 11
Paris, Didier Imbert Fine Arts, 20 Ans de Passion, Alain Delon, 1990, no. 16, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Saint-Tropez, Musée de l’Annonciade, Signac et Saint-Tropez: 1892-1913, 1992, no. 15
The present composition captures the beauty and splendor of the “Pin de Bertaud” or “Pin Bertaud,” a famous evergreen tree located near the castle Bertaud in Gassin, a small French village perched 200 meters above sea level that overlooks the gulf of Saint-Tropez. The Pine of Bertaud was a well-known tourist attraction in the nineteenth century and appeared in guidebooks as early as the 1830s. It was later reproduced in engravings, drawings and photographs as well as four paintings by Paul Signac (Cachin nos. 240, 241, the present work 246 & 478). The tree’s popularity was likely due to its prime positioning in the middle of the road that led to Saint-Tropez and was not only a local curiosity and a delight to tourists, but also considered remarkable to horticultural specialists. Charles Joly, the vice president of the Société d’horticulture de France, gave a detailed description of the Pin de Bertaud stating: "The height of this pine is 16 meters and its circumference is 6 meters. The trunk to this day is perfectly healthy and without apparent hollow. The head is complete on all sides, although a strong branch must have been mutilated a few years ago because it interfered with the circulation of cars. The diameter of the head is 26 meters, which gives this enormous parasol a perimeter of 78 meters" (Official Journal, National Horticultural Society, Paris, September 28, 1988).
The present work exemplifies Signac’s innovative Neo-Impressionist technique characterized by a systematic application of dots of colors, known as pointillism. Spearheading this innovative technique in the late 1880s and the early 1890s, Signac was well-regarded as the leading spokesperson for this innovative style of painting, a movement which had officially begun at the closing of the eighth and final Impressionist group exhibition in Paris in 1886. It was at this exhibition that “works appeared for the first time that were painted solely with pure, separated and balanced colors, mixing optically according to a rational method” (P. Signac, “Eugène Delacroix au néo-Impressionisme,” 1899, reprinted in C. Harrison & P. Wood, Art Theory, 1900-1990, Oxford & Cambridge, 1992, p. 21). At the time, though, this rational method of painting was highly radical in its juxtaposition of opposing colors and its exceedingly detailed approach to rendering a large scene in dot formation. The present work, created when Signac’s technique was at its peak, epitomizes his bold stylistic innovation. The artist's approach here was rooted in a careful study of geometry, with particular focus on the horizontality of the great pine and the presence of Saint-Tropez in the background.
The term "Neo-Impressionism" was coined at the 1886 Impressionist group exhibition by the critic Félix Fénéon when referring to the paintings of Signac, Georges Seurat, and Camille and Lucien Pissarro. As the inheritors of the Impressionist tradition, these artists continued to depict the visual splendor of the modern world. Their approach to this artistic goal, however, was decidedly more scientific, relying upon harmonious resonance of color and a precise, divisionist application of paint. Robert Herbert provided the following explanation of this radically new approach: “Suddenly, the new Impressionists proclaimed that intense shimmering light need not spring from this hedonism of the retina. On the contrary, they insisted, the vibration of colored light must come from the patient and systematic application of nature’s immutable laws. With Seurat’s monumental Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grande Jatte as standard bearer, these artists exhibited works in bright colors laid down in tiny and systematic dabs of paint. Their paintings breathed a spirit of clear, order, firm decision, scientific logic, and a startling definiteness of structure that constituted an open challenge to the instinctive art of the Impressionists of the previous decade. The most conspicuous act of defiance was their mechanical brushwork, which deliberately suppressed the personality of the artist and so flouted the individualism dear to the Impressionists” (R. Herbert, Neo-Impressionism, Princeton, 1968, p. 15).
The present work is one of four compositions Signac painted featuring the renowned Pine of Bertaud and is the only work which remains in private hands. The three other versions are in the collections of institutions including The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.
Pin de Bertaud is distinguished by it's important early provenance. The second owner of the present work was Dr. Eberhard Freiherr von Bodenhausen-Degener (1868-1918), the renowned German art historian, collector and founder of the German literature magazine Pan who amassed an unparalleled collection of Pointillist masterpieces which included several works by Paul Signac.
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