- Maurice Denis
- LES PARISIENS AU BORD DE LA MER, SOIR
- signed with the monogram and dated 99 (lower centre)
- oil on canvas
- 73 by 100cm., 28 3/4 by 39 3/8 in.
M. Neuhuys, Amsterdam (acquired in 1901)
J. Van Wisselingh & Co., Amsterdam
Acquired from the above by the present owner in the 1950s
Paris, Bernheim-Jeune, Œuvres de Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Ibels, Aristide Maillol, Hermann-Paul, Ranson, Roussel, Sérusier, Valotton, Vuillard, 1900, no. 7
Brussels, Huitième exposition de la Libre Esthétique, 1901, no. 166
This exquisite scene shows the artist and his family at Le Pouldu, Brittany, where they had spent the summer of 1899, lodging at the Pension Portier. In the warm evening light, Denis holds his newborn daughter, Bernadette, who sports a marvellous bonnet. To his left, his wife Marthe reaches out to Noële, their first child. Marthe is also depicted to the artist's left, conversing with her sister, Eva. Behind this tranquil group, couples stroll on the strand, a ferryman brings in his passengers while lobsters pots wait by the shore.
By 1899, the new language of Symbolism that Denis had absorbed in Brittany in the early nineties was evolving into a richer, more monumental idiom. His œuvre would always retain the essential lesson of Pont-Aven: that a composition is firstly a flat, rhythmical pattern of colours that posesses its own intrinsic logic and beauty. However, as Les Parisiens (a deliciously self-deprecating title) illustrates well, both the Classicism of Puvis de Chavannes and fashionable urban modernity were pulling his imagination in new directions. In Les Parisiens, the delicately observed fashions and fabrics, handled in a distinctly Nabi manner, set up a dialogue between the present and the eternal in this almost mystical conception of familial intimacy.