Henri le Sidaner
- Henri Le Sidaner
- LA TABLE AUX LANTERNES, GERBEROY
- Signed Le Sidaner (lower left)
- Oil on canvas
- 49 3/4 by 58 1/2 in.
- 126.4 by 148.6 cm
Maurice Sternberg Galleries, Chicago
Richard Green Fine Art, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, 1926, no. 32
New York, Grand Central Art Galleries, 1926, no. 139
Philadelphia, Art Club, 1926, no. 39
Rouen, Musée de Rouen, Le Sidaner, 1928, no. 6, illustrated
Saint Louis, City Art Museum, 1928, no. 38
Brussels, Galerie des artistes français, Le Sidaner, no. 2
Paris, Galeries Charpentier, Le Sidaner, 1934
Paris, Musée Galliéra, Rétrospective Henri le Sidaner 1862-1939, 1948, no. 63
Chicago, Galerie Sternberg, Henri le Sidaner, 1968, no. 11
Paris, Musée Marmottan, Henri le Sidaner 1862-1939, 1989, no. 31, illustrated in color in the catalogue and front cover
La Revue de l'Art Ancien et Moderne, Paris, March, 1925
Le Figaro Artistique, Paris, February, 1925
Camille Mauclair, Le Sidaner, Paris, 1928, illustrated pl. 31
Le Soir Illustré, Brussels, October-November, 1931
Yann Farinaux-Le Sidaner, Le Sidaner, L’Oeuvre peint et gravé, Paris, 1989, no. 535, illustrated p. 205 and in color on the front cover
Epitomizing the artist’s skillful play with light, effect and color, La Table aux lanternes creates an atmosphere of meditative contemplation. The viewer’s gaze lingers on the table and the carefully placed objects, absorbing the color and the mood. The absence of figures allows one’s imagination to awaken and to be fully present in the fleeting dusk. There is no need for human presence as the orange, yellow and pink hues cast by the oriental lanterns bring the viewer into the moment and allow one to contemplate eternity. Le Sidaner was fully aware that he wouldn’t have time to depict the plays of light and their changing reflections as they materialized, so he instead focused on fully experiencing the moment in order to re-create it more perfectly once it had passed. He would memorize a scene and later reproduce it in the studio. As the artist’s son, Rémy Le Sidaner, recalls, “When my father caught one of these 'special effects', he nodded in my direction and stood there, gazing out towards the horizon, impressing on his mind the scene he had just witnessed” (quoted in Y. Farinaux-Le Sidaner, op.cit., p.10).
In April 1901 the artist moved to Gerberoy, “seized with a burning ambition. He longed to plan a garden of his own, in which the landscape would be designed by him personally and in which he could achieve his favorite light effects” (Y. Farinaux-Le Sidaner, op.cit., p.14). Henri Le Sidaner fulfilled his dream of creating an ideal setting in which he could capture these perfect moments. Le Sidaner painted under different lights, each time of day representing a different facet of a lost Art de Vivre. In 1935, four years before his death, the artist delivered a speech to celebrate the three decades he had spent in the village: "And when it is my time to go, I am sure I shall be seized with a vision of my modest cottage in Gerberoy, where trembling fingers will adorn the shutters with a single branch of greenery, enhanced by heavy roses, bringing us that elusive grace which characterizes the blossoming of nature" (quoted in Y. Farinaux-Le Sidaner, op.cit., p.19).
Le Sidaner was not alone in his sensitivity to quiet and poetic beauty. As Paul Signac noted, “His entire work is influenced by a taste for tender, soft and silent atmospheres. Gradually, he even went so far as to eliminate from his paintings all human figures, as if he feared that the slightest human presence might disturb their muffled silence” (Y. Farinaux-Le Sidaner, op.cit., p.31). Although the figures are absent from La Table aux lanternes, the artist’s soul is present in the rich tonalities and the muted musicality of the composition. The viewer wonders if the table has been abandoned or if the guests will return; one feels the urge to be present in the quiet suspension of time, acknowledging the passing nature of life. The lanterns add to the magical and fleeting quality of the light, as if immortalizing dusk into infinity. Camille Mauclair describes this moment 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).
Fig. 1 Henri Le Sidaner in his garden at Gerberoy