By suggesting human presence only through their absence and focussing instead on architectural or domestic environs, Le Sidaner’s works are imbued with a delightful sense of calm that is accurately described by the contemporary art historian Camille Mauclair in the conclusion to his book: ‘It is l’heure de Le Sidaner, the time when he is most profoundly himself (…) The colors become spiritual as they resist the falling darkness to which they will ultimately succumb. The ordinary is transformed into magic by the miracle of the moment and of the silence. Le Sidaner is able to depict the sweetness of life transfigured by love and made visible through physical objects.’ (Camille Mauclair, Henri Le Sidaner, Paris, 1928, p. 252).
Mauclair’s words serve as an eloquent description of Les Vieilles Maison, Quimperlé, a painting filled with a sense of nostalgia and solitude. In this exceptional work, Le Sidaner combines his innovative use of brushwork and colour with the history of a French village. Quimperlé is snaked by canals and located on the southern coast of the tip of Brittany, near familiar names as Le Croisic and Concarneau that were frequented by Parisian bourgeois holidaymakers and the painters who depicted them, including Paul Signac, Alfred Sisley and Eugène Boudin. As such these old houses carry a strong emotional connection in their representation of both the romance of holiday and forgotten histories, and this painting is one of very few of his works to take advantage of such a poignant subject.
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