Jean Sutter, Paris (by 1959)
Private Collection (acquired from the above on July 6, 1972)
Mr. & Mrs. Arthur G. Altschul, New York (by 1985)
Sale: Christie's, New York, May 7, 2002, lot 18
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Paris, Durand-Ruel, Maximilien Luce, 1899, no. 48
Paris, Galerie Bénézit, Maximilien Luce, époque néo-impressionniste, 1886-1901, 1959, no. 18 (as dating from 1894)
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Maximilien Luce, 1966, no. 20
St. Petersburg, Florida, Museum of Fine Arts, Paris in the Belle Epoque: People and Places, 1980, no. 49
New York, Wildenstein & Co, Inc., La Revue blanche, Paris, in the Days of Post-Impressionism and Symbolism, 1983
Tokyo, National Museum of Modern Art & Kyoto, Municipal Museum of Art, Pointillism, 1985, no. 31, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Philippe Cazeau, Maximilien Luce, Paris, 1982, illustrated in color p. 45 (titled Vue du quai Conti, tombée du jour)
J. Bouin-Luce & Denise Bazetoux, Maximilien Luce, catalogue de l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 1986, vol. I, p. 86, illustrated in color p. 86; vol. II, no. 291, illustrated p. 79
Le quai Conti dates from the high point of Luce's involvement with the Neo-Impressionists, a radical group of painters at the forefront of avant-garde, just as the official Impressionist movement was coming to a close. The term 'neo-Impressionism' was coined in 1886 at the final Impressionist group exhibition by the critic Félix Fénéon when referring to the paintings of Paul Signac, Georges Seurat, and Camille and Lucien Pissarro. In 1887, Luce made his debut with these artists at the Société des Artistes, exhibiting seven pictures that bore the style which Fenéon had found so remarkable the previous year. As the inheritors of the Impressionist tradition, Luce and his colleagues continued to depict the visual splendor of the modern world. Their approach to this artistic goal, however, was decidedly more scientific, relying upon harmonious resonance of color and a precise, divisionist application of paint known as pointillism. When Luce painted this scene of central Paris in 1894, the pointillist technique defined some of the most desirable paintings of the turn-of-century, and it would ultimately have a profound impact on the Fauves a decade later.
Robert Herbert provided the following explanation of the divisionist approach to painting that Luce has applied so adeptly in his enchanting Le quai Conti: "Suddenly, the new Impressionists proclaimed that intense shimmering light need not spring from this hedonism of the retina. On the contrary, the insisted, the vibration of colored light must come from the patient and systematic application of nature's immutable laws. With Seurat's monumental Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grande Jatte as standard bearer, these artists exhibited works in bright colors laid down in tiny and systematic dabs of paint. Their paintings breathed a spirit of clear, order, firm decision, scientific logic, and a startling definiteness of structure that constituted an open challenge to the instinctive art of the Impressionists of the previous decade. The most conspicuous act of defiance was their mechanical brushwork, which deliberately suppressed the personality of the artist and so flouted the individualism dear to the Impressionists" (R. Herbert, Neo-Impressionism, Princeton, 1968, p. 15).
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