Le Café du port, Le Croisic is actually one half of a spectacular work of the same title which Le Sidaner began creating for an exhibition at Galeries Georges Petit alongside the works of Ernest Laurent and Henri Martin. Not yet satisfied with the composition, he decided at the last minute not to include this large canvas but did exhibit eighteen others. Speaking about the exhibition, Édouard Sarradin said “three, one could say, brotherly talents were united in the great hall of Georges Petit. This made for an exhibition that was at once magnificent and exquisite” (quoted in Yann Farinaux-Le Sidaner, op. cit., 2013, p. 174). He continued working on Le Café du port, Le Croisic and when finished, it pleased him so much that he kept it for the rest of his life.
The large canvas was divided in half in 1965 after it was sold, and the present work is the right half of the former composition, which is illustrated in full in the catalogue raisonné (see fig. 1). The full composition was quite exceptional for le Sidaner, as it included a trio of revelers (for which the artist had his son Louis dress up as a sailor) in a departure from his serene compositions. Absent of its left half, the present work's relationship with the artist’s other table studies and quiet scenes becomes more direct. A characteristic sense of understated mystery pervades, a result of his Symbolist roots. The beautifully arranged table still life awaits as dusk descends on the port and the lights from inside the house start to flicker. The present work was painted at the height of his artistic prowess—“This is a time of utmost creative expression, where the artist reaches a climax in his art” (ibid., p. 37)—and sets a tender and atmospheric tone, especially in the contrast between the empty and the full tables.
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