Lot 161
  • 161

Henri Le Sidaner

500,000 - 700,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Henri Le Sidaner

  • Signed Le Sidaner (lower left)
  • Oil on canvas

  • 38 3/4 by 37 1/4 in.
  • 98.4 by 94.6 cm


Galeries Georges Petit, Paris
Howard Young Galleries, New York
Charles M. Butler, Connecticut (acquired from the above)
Private Collection (by descent from the above)
Bequest of the above in 1997


Paris, Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, 1919, no. 1949
Brussels, Salon des Artistes Français, 1920, no. 18


Vittorio Pica, Nel Mondo delle Arti Belle, Milan, 1923
Yann Farinaux-Le Sidaner, Le Sidaner: l'Oeuvre peint et gravé, Paris, 1989, no. 397, illustrated p. 159

Catalogue Note

Employing one of Henri Le Sidaner's most celebrated themes, the present work invites viewers to gaze into a tranquil marsh picturesquely framed by open French windows. The view is of Montreuil-Bellay, a French commune on the River Thouet and the subject of a number of Le Sidaner's paintings from the 1910s. This type of still life became one of the artist's most important themes during the last two decades of his career. At the time Les hortensias was exhibited in 1919, prominent art critic Louis Vauxcelles wrote in the journal L'Excelsior, "Monsieur Le Sidaner has for years been pursuing a direction that distinguishes him: a cloudy Impressionism with strong accents in which the powerful brushwork does no harm to the characteristic magic of his motifs" (quoted in Ingrid Mössner& Karin Sager, Henri Le Sidaner: A Magical Impressionist, Munich, 2009, p. 178).

Le Sidaner developed his distinctive visual language in Paris during the 1890s under the influence of Symbolism. The fin-de-siècle mood of Maurice Denis, Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer and Pierre Bonnard set the poetic tone for his body of work. On a formal level, Le Sidaner found a suitably harmonious treatment for his compositions in the Post-Impressionist technique of lively, divided brushwork. In the present work, Le Sidaner retreats from late 19th-century views of city streets seen through bourgeois parlor windows. Instead he paints the line between the private interior and the outside world as a more gracefully defined marker of difference. A tenderly and deliberately decorated windowsill draws the intimacy of the interior space outward into the privately observed and sparingly revealed landscape beyond. As the rest of the art world revels in modernity and the overblown experience of public life, Le Sidaner withdraws and carves out a world of subtle human glances into the hushed, luminous natural world at hand.

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" (quoted in Yann Farinaux-Le Sidaner, op. cit., p. 31). Instead, the artist focused on the architectural and domestic environment that people create for themselves. "He considered that the silent harmony of things is enough to evoke the presence of those who live among them. Indeed, such presences are felt through his works. Deserted they may be, but never empty" (Camille Mauclair, Henri Le Sidaner, Paris, 1928, p. 12). 

Here the artist demonstrates his masterful ability, not only flawlessly conveying the subtleties of daylight with his diaphanous brushwork but also achieving remarkable spatial depth through color and tone. Jacques Baschet underlines the excellence of Le Sidaner by comparing him to the master of impressionist light himself: "With him [Le Sidaner], contours seem to emerge from the interplay of light, and in this respect, he is similar to Claude Monet" (J. Baschet, L'Illustration, 1924, quoted in Y. Farinaux-Le Sidaner, op. cit., p. 37).



Fig. 1 Henri Le Sidaner in 1933.