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PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Théo van Rysselberghe
PORT DE CETTE, LES TARTANES
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Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
6,000,0008,000,000
LOT SOLD. 7,227,800 USD
JUMP TO LOT
45

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Théo van Rysselberghe
PORT DE CETTE, LES TARTANES
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
6,000,0008,000,000
LOT SOLD. 7,227,800 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

|
New York

Théo van Rysselberghe
1862 - 1926
PORT DE CETTE, LES TARTANES
Oil on canvas in the artist's original painted frame
23 1/2 by 27 1/2 in.
59.7 by 69.9 cm
Painted in 1892. 
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Thomas Braun, Brussels (acquired by 1927)

Mr. & Mrs. John Hay Whitney, New York (acquired by 1961)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York (acquired as a gift from the above in 1983 and sold: Christie's, New York, November 1, 2005, lot 5)

Acquired at the above sale

Exhibited

(possibly) Brussels, Musée Moderne, Les XX, 1893

Paris, Pavillon de la Ville de Paris, 7ième. exposition société des artistes indépendants, 1893

Brussels, Galerie Georges Giroux, Rétrospective Théo van Rysselberghe, 1927, no. 21

Ostend, Royal Galleries of Ostend, La peinture sous le signe de la mer, 1951, no. 107

Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, The John Hay Whitney Collection, 1983, no. 36

New York, The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA2000, Modern Starts, Places: French Landscape, The Modernist Vision, 1880-1920, 1999-2000

Portland, Portland Museum of Art, Neo-Impressionism: Artists on the Edge, 2002, fig. 30, illustrated in color in the catalogue 

Brussels, Centre for Fine Arts, Den Haag, Gemeentemuseum, Théo van Rysselberghe, 2006, n.n., illustrated in color in the catalogue

Milan, Palazzo Reale, Georges Seurat, Paul Signac et i neoimpressionisti, 2008-09, no. 68, illustrated in color in the catalogue 

Vienna, Albertina, Seurat, Signac, Van Gogh. Ways of Pointillism, 2016-17, no. 66, illustrated in color in the catalogue 

Literature

Gustave van Zype, "Théo van Rysselberghe" in Annuaire de l'Académie royale de Belgique, Brussels, 1932

Paul Fierens, Théo van Rysselberghe, Brussels, 1937, pl. 12, illustrated p. 33

Francois Maret, Les peintres luministes, Brussels, 1944, illustrated pl. X (dated 1898)

Francois Maret, "Théo van Rysselberghe" in Monographies de l'art belge, 1948, illustrated p. 220 

John Rewald, Le Post-impressionisme de Van Gogh à Gauguin, Paris, 1961, pl. 21, illustrated p. 77 

Robert L. Herbert, Neo-Impressionism (exhibition catalogue), The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1968, illustrated p. 179

Marina Ferretti-Bocquillon, L'Europe des peintres (exhibition catalogue), Musée d'Orsay, Paris, 1993, illustrated p. 301

Marina Ferretti-Bocquillon, "Signac and Van Rysselberghe: The Story of a Friendship, 1887-1907" in Apollo, June 1998, no. 436, illustrated in color p. 13

Ronald Feltkamp, Théo van RysselbergheCatalogue raisonné, Paris, 2003, no. 1892-006, illustrated p. 294 & in color p. 60

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1892, Port de Cette, Les Tartanes was executed at the height of van Ryssleberghe’s artistic production and is one of his acknowledged masterpieces. The artist’s mastery of the pointilliste technique is fully evident in this visually dazzling work, and is further enhanced by his original painted frame. From the late 1880s to the end of the 1890s van Rysselberghe developed a distinct form of Neo-Impressionism, based on the style of the French painters Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, yet with a distinct leaning toward the Symbolist sensibilities of the leading Belgian artists of the day. Portraits, exquisitely rendered in dappling colors applied in small dots of paint, were the most prominent part of his output until 1890 when landscapes came to the fore. 

Van Rysselberghe was a founding member of the Brussels-based Neo-Impressionist group known as Les XX (sometimes written Les Vingt). The group was founded by van Rysselberghe along with Emile Verhaeren and Octave Maus in 1883, and was named after its twenty members. Van Rysselberghe played an important role in organizing the group’s annual exhibitions and was considered by many to be its leading artist. His extensive connections with other painters and writers enabled him to exhibit widely and travel extensively himself. 

Van Rysselberghe completed a number of oils of maritime subjects in the years around 1890, many drawing inspiration from the river Scheldt near his native Antwerp and others from excursions further afield. These paintings included a portrait of his friend and fellow painter Paul Signac at the helm of his sailing boat. The two men shared many common interests, not least sailing and painting, and their relationship provided the most substantial connection between the Sociéte des Artistes Indépendants based in Paris and the Belgian group Les XX – to which Signac was elected in 1891.

Allied by their friendship and artistic ambitions, they each nonetheless cultivated their own Neo-Impressionist style, with van Rysselberghe particularly interested in imbuing his compositions with a rich sense of atmosphere. In March of 1892, van Rysselberghe boarded Signac's boat the Olympia. Writing about this particular excursion, van Rysselberghe declared "I leave tomorrow for the south coast - with Pierre Olin - He will leave me in Bordeaux and Signac will join me. And then: the Canal du Midi: Montauban, Carcassonne, Toulouse etc, then Sète, Marseille, Toulon and off to sea! Ah, it's going to be really topping! (quoted in Théo van Rysselberghe (exhibition catalogue), Op. cit, 2006, p. 135).

Port de Cette, Les Tartanes was one of the products of this adventurous voyage. Writing about the skill and impact of this work, Marina Ferretti Bocquillon opines "This seascape [the present work], begun by van Rysselberghe with Signac at his side, splendidly demonstrates his artistic audacity. During the early years of Neo-Impressionism the Belgian would produce a series of canvases, veritable blueprints for landscapes, characterized by an almost abstract sense of composition, rhythm and colour, which in this writer's view are among his best works. Far from being a mere diversion from his portrait work, his seascapes show a freedom from nature absent from works where he is intent on conveying aspects of a personality. The rigour of Neo-Impressionist principles obliging the artist to discipline an innate facility and brio, he here gave the best of himself, expressing an uncommonly refined and subtle modernism" (ibid., p. 135).

Port de Cette, Les Tartanes depicts numerous boats in the harbor of Cette (since 1928, known as Sète), situated along the Mediterranean coastline of France at the opening of the Canal du Midi. Known as the 'Venice of Languedoc,' Sète's position as one of the hubs of the Bassin de Thau, with its associated shellfish cultivation, in addition to is proximity to the inland canals and the sea, have long made it a center of trade as well as a popular destination for visitors. The tartanes referenced in the title of the present work were small ships used for trade and fishing along the Mediterranean coast. Of relatively simple design and featuring just one mast, tartanes were ubiquitous for centuries, though by the time van Rysselberghe painted the Port de Cette, Les Tartanes they were soon to be supplanted by other vessels. 

In 1893 the present work was featured in the final exhibition of Les XX held in Brussels at the Palais des Beaux-Arts. This was the first show to introduce divisionism or pointillism to a northern European audience. Many of van Rysselberghe’s best works were then shown at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris later in the year, marking the first of many international exhibitions to include Port de Cette, Les Tartanes. In 1899 van Rysselberghe was invited to participate in the third exhibition held in the Secession building in Vienna. Van Rysselberghe was also accorded the honor of having an article written about his work by Verhaeren which was published in the chronicle of the Vienna Secession Ver Sacrum. To have been so chosen by Vienna’s leading artists was indicative of van Rysselberghe’s rapidly growing international reputation, as well as their sensitivity towards his particular approach to painting and depiction of atmosphere. The Austrian Secessionists, in particular Gustav Klimt and Carl Moll, were well aware of the pointillist techniques employed by van Rysselberghe and other Neo-Impressionists, and like van Rysselberghe, they were intrigued by the way in which applying paint in a pointillist manner could imbue their subjects with greater animation and atmosphere.

Port de Cette, Les Tartanes has subsequently been included in several major individual exhibitions and Neo-Impressionist group-exhibitions and was at one time part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The present work has extraordinarily important early provenance and was acquired by John Hay Whitney by 1961. John Hay Whitney was a renowned American ambassador, publisher, philanthropist and art collector who was once the President of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Whitney donated the present work to the Museum in 1983, who later sold it to the present owner in 2005 to benefit their acquisitions fund.

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

|
New York