The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Geneviève Claisse.
Wilhelm Uhde, Paris (acquired directly from the artist and sold: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 30, 1921) Sale: Christie's, New York, November 7, 2001, lot 151 Acquired at the above sale
La Marne aux environs de Meaux is a shimmering vision of a painting showcasing Herbin at the beginning of his involvement with the Fauve movement. It combines deft brushwork with a sensitive and emotive use of color. Having started his career by working in an Impressionist and then Divisionist style, Herbin fully embraced Fauvism by 1906, exhibiting alongside André Derain, Georges Braque and Maurice de Vlaminck at the 1907 Salon des independents. In this 1904 oil, he demonstrates mastery of the Divisionist technique, using a delicate palette of silvery blues and greens, flecked across the horizon with more vivid flashes of salmon pink, vermillion and cobalt blue. He frequently painted along the river Marne and another of his paintings in the sale, lot 216, depicts this tributary to the river Seine in 1908 further downstream, closer to Paris at Creteil.
Here we see a device the artist frequently employed during this period—the placement of the horizon line so as to bisect the composition. This has the disorientating effect of locating the viewer in the middle of the river. The steam rising from the boat at the center of the composition contributes to an atmospheric effect, while the hazy reflection in the water serves to heighten the abstract qualities of the canvas. The following years would see the artist move into the famed Bateau Lavoir studios in Paris and work alongside artists Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Juan Gris to rapidly evolve his style through Cubism, ultimately becoming a founding member of the Abstraction-Création movement. This lyrical canvas finds him poised on the edge of Fauvism and at the beginning of an extraordinary journey into the science of color and its emotive qualities.
The canvas has not been lined. The impasto is strong. The varnish is slightly yellow and there is light surface dirt. There is some minor craquelure in the upper left quadrant and upper right quadrant. There are 2 small areas of repair to the canvas visible on the reverse. Under UV light, the aforementioned repairs have associated retouching visible under UV light. There are strokes of retouching along the bottom half of the right edge and to the lower right corner, away from the signature. There is a stroke of retouching to the upper right corner. The work is otherwise in good condition. In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.