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Details & Cataloguing

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Henri Edmond Cross
1856 - 1910
LA PLAINE DE BORMES
signed Henri Edmond Cross (lower right)
oil on canvas
73.1 by 91.8cm., 28 3/4 by 36 1/8 in.
Painted between November 1907 and January 1908.
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This work will be included in the forthcoming Henri-Edmond Cross Catalogue raisonné being prepared by Patrick Offendstadt.

Provenance

Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris (acquired directly from the artist on 15th February 1908)
Henri-Edmond Canonne, France (acquired from the above on 2nd May 1923)
Sale: Christie's, New York, 21st March 1983, lot 15
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

Exhibited

Le Havre, Hôtel de Ville du Havre, Cercle de l'Art moderne. 3eme exposition, 1908, no. 12
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, H.E. Cross, 1910, no. 25
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, La Faune, 1910, no. 44
Douai, Hôtel de Ville, Société des Amis des Arts, 1911, no. 51
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, H.E.C., 1913, no. 36
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Le Paysage du Midi, 1914, no. 10
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Französische Kunst des XIX and XX Jahrhunderts, 1917, no. 273
Barcelona, Galerias Dalmau, Exposicio d'Art Frances d'Avantguarda, 1920, no. 4, illustrated in the catalogue

Literature

Jules Leroux, 'Aux Amis des Arts, H.E. Cross' in La Vie Douaisienne, 22nd July 1911
Lucie Cousturier, H.E. Cross, 1932, illustrated pl. 9
Isabelle Compin, H.E. Cross, Paris, 1964, no. 204, illustrated p. 305

Catalogue Note

Formed of layers of luminous colour tones, La Plaine de Bormes is a magnificent example of Henri Edmond Cross’ mature landscapes. Described by Sarah Whitfield as ‘one of the most gifted painters in the Neo-Impressionist group’ (Sarah Whitfield in: Fauvism, London, 1996, p. 45), Cross, alongside Paul Signac, was one of the leading pioneers of Divisionism within painting, a term utilised by Signac to refer to the distinctive application of variously coloured ‘dots’ of paint across the canvas surface to create a unified compositional whole. Based upon the colour theories of Michel-Eugène Chevreul, Signac and Cross advocated the juxtaposition of unexpected combinations of colours upon the canvas in order to convey an impression of shimmering, iridescent light. Cross’ application of this technique arguably reaches its apogee within La Plaine de Bormes, in which the vivid blues and pinks that form the tree trunks, taken alongside the vibrant oranges and yellows of the surrounding landscape, evoke the brilliant sunlight of southern France to astonishing effect.

When creating his landscape paintings, Cross frequently began by working in his studio in order to allow the imagination to dominate the artistic process, only working en plein air during the final creative stages in order to add a layer of verisimilitude to the scene. The artist declared that: ‘I compose in the studio, coming as close as possible to my interior vision; then, the harmony being established… I set about making my sensations objective – sensations corresponding to the initial vision – in front of nature’ (quoted in ibid., p. 46). Making specific reference to Cross’ landscape paintings, Whitfield notes that: ‘The emphasis that Cross places on what he calls his “interior vision” is in line with the Neo-Impressionist belief that a landscape painting should extol the eternal rather than the transient aspects of nature’ (ibid., p. 46). Gloriously representative of an idyllic, Arcadian vision, La Plaine de Bormes eloquently conveys this sensation of timelessness.

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