- Maximilien Luce
- LE PERCEMENT DE LA RUE RÉAUMUR
- signed Luce and dated 96 (lower right)
- oil on canvas
- 73.2 by 100cm., 28 7/8 by 39 3/8 in.
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York (sale: Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 26th May 1976, lot 45)
Mrs J. J. Purris, USA (purchased at the above sale)
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Salle Néo-Impressionniste, 1899, no. 98
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Maximilien Luce, 1899, no. 51
Brussels, 7ème Exposition de la Libre Esthétique, 1900, no. 191
Paris, Galerie Bénézit, Luce Époque Néo-Impressionniste, 1886-1901, 1959, no. 21
Denise Bazetoux & Jean-Bouin Luce, Maximilien Luce, Catalogue de l'œuvre peint, Paris, 1986, vol. I, illustrated in colour p. 101; vol. II, no. 212, illustrated p. 60
Continuing the theme of the urban landscape, championed by Canaletto and later Claude Monet, Maximilien Luce followed in their esteemed footsteps, while taking additional cues from his friend and mentor, Camille Pissarro. Whereas Canaletto and Monet concentrate on the city as the subject, with tiny figures that are merely wisps of paint, both Pissarro and Luce delve into the human element, depicting the people, traffic and action of the streets of the city clearly, breathing life into their canvases.
In Place du Havre (fig. 1), Pissarro has deftly achieved the bird’s eye perspective while depicting the hustle and bustle of the street; one can almost hear the noise of the traffic. Obviously Luce found inspiration in his technique, as reflected in the present work painted just a few years later. In its complexity and richness Le Percement de la rue Réaumur is neither strictly an Impressionist nor a neo-impressionist painting. Rather, it articulates a new artistic language developed by Pissarro in the same period that points unequivocally toward the twentieth century.
Although friends with various members of the neo-impressionist movement, Luce is most closely associated with Pissarro in his choice of subject matter. Like Pissarro, who greatly enjoyed depicting the labours of the agrarian class and late in life turned his attention to the city, Luce championed the common man and his daily pursuits. According to Martha Ward, 'Several neo-impressionists were in fact praised for their masculinity. This group included the declared anarchist Maximilien Luce, who frequently depicted scenes of proletariat life and labour in paintings with surfaces that were rougher and denser than the norm for the neo-impressionists, and it seems to have been precisely these aspects that, emphasising the congruence of life and painting through their mutual materiality, that prompted the gendering and the praise, particularly in socialist circles' (M. Ward, Pissarro, Neo-impressionism, and the Spaces of the Avant-Garde, Chicago, 1996, p. 11).
Fig. 1 Camille Pissarro, Place du Havre, 1893, oil on canvas, The Art Institute of Chicago, Potter Palmer Collection