Lot 112
  • 112

Stanislas Lépine

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  • Stanislas Lépine
  • Caen, Le Bassin Saint-Pierre
  • signed S. Lépine (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 21 5/8 by 18 1/8 in.
  • 54.9 by 46


Garaud, Paris
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris
Galerie Rosenberg, Paris
Madame Alberto Morea, Buenos Aires (by 1977)
Sale: Hôtel des Ventes, Enghien, November 29, 1987, lot 3
Daniel Malingue, Paris
Sale: Sotheby's, New York, November 9, 1994, lot 105, illustrated
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


Robert Schmitt and Manuel Schmit, Stanislas Lépine: Catalogue Raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 1993, no. 604, illustrated p. 244

Catalogue Note

Lépine painted the Bassin Saint-Pierre, in his native Caen, Normandy, during the early 1860s, soon after his debut at the Salon as a marine painter and just as he began to benefit from lessons and a growing friendship with Camille Corot.  Caen is a busy port on the Orne river, a few kilometers in from the Channel coast, and the Bassin Saint-Pierre provided docks for local fishing boats, commercial shipping, and the small steamers that connected French coastal cities and English ports.  Lépine had grown up nearby and throughout his career he returned often to paint the Bassin in all kinds of weather and even by moonlight.

The specific facts that shape Lépine's biography are sparse: born in Caen, he was largely self-taught as an artist until he was befriended by Corot during the late 1850s; he exhibited regularly at the Salon, and in 1874 he was included in the first Impressionist exhibition.  Lépine sold pictures through the dealer Martin who handled many of the realist artists outside the Impressionist circle, and around 1870 Lépine was taken up by the Galerie Durand-Ruel, the principal promoter of the Impressionist movement.  Fortunately, Lépine's wide-ranging oeuvre -- scenes of the bridges and bustling wharfs of Paris that were particularly popular, the mist-softened quays and dry-docks of Caen, and broad views of the farmlands along the rivers of lower Normandy -- fills out the rough outline of his life quite fully.  Lépine came of age as a painter when landscape was the most adventurous of French painting fields.  His preference for a palette of soft colors distinguishes him from his more flamboyant Impressionist friends, but he shared with contemporaries such as Boudin and Jongkind a natural sensitivity to the complex tonal effects that characterized France's northern waterways.  And his knowledgable fascination with the details of harbor life, such as the man standing on a small float to repair the side of the foremost vessel, gave pictures such as Caen, Bassin Saint-Pierre a timeless appeal.