Lot 105
  • 105

Henry Moret

150,000 - 250,000 USD
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  • La Terre de Cléden, Point du Raz, Finistère
  • Signed Henry Moret. and dated 1911. (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 36 1/4 by 28 7/8 in.
  • 92.1 by 73.3 cm


Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired directly from the artist in 1912)
Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan (acquired from the above in 1920 and sold: Sotheby's, New York, September 30, 1999, lot 27)
Private Collection, Louisiana (acquired at the above sale and sold: Sotheby’s, New York, November 7, 2012, lot 180)
MacConnal-Mason & Son, Ltd., London (acquired at the above sale) 
Acquired from the above


Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Tableaux par Henry Moret, 1920, no. 2
Saginaw, Michigan, Saginaw Art Museum, Exhibition of 19th Century French Painting, 1948-49, n.n.


The painting is in very good condition. The canvas has not been lined. Very minor frame abrasion is apparently only at the extreme outer edges of the canvas. Faint scattered lines of stable cracking are visible in the sky. The nicely textured impasto has been well-preserved and the colors appear fresh and vibrant. Under UV light: a few nailhead-sized spots of inpainting are visible, including one in the sky toward the upper left corner and another just below the center of the offshore rocks at center right of the foreground. Other pigments fluoresce and a thick layer of varnish is difficult to read through.
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.

Catalogue Note

Henry Moret was born in 1856 in the town of Cherbourg, a strategically important port located on the Normandy coast. Typical of many families residing in Cherbourg, Moret’s father was a garrison officer and Henry followed his father’s path with a brief period of military service before becoming a professional artist. Moret’s artistic training took place at the École des Beaux-Arts, under the guidance of academic painters Jean-Léon Gérôme and Jean-Paul Laurens. This traditional academic pedigree is almost untraceable in Moret’s later oeuvre, as he fully embraced Impressionist and Sythentic techniques in a masterful reconciliation of two competing artistic orthodoxies to develop a unique artistic vocabulary of his own. During Moret’s period of military service in 1875, he was stationed in Brittany and became captivated by its remote natural beauty and rugged landscape, which also attracted other Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. Claude Monet visited the Breton coast in September 1886 and was inspired to paint a series of seascapes capturing the effects of light and weather upon the rough seas. The canvases that Monet produced on the Breton coast are often noted as the first of many serial works that defined the latter half of his career.

That same summer, in an attempt to escape the ceaseless anxiety of modern Parisian life, the restless Post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin joined the existing artists’ colony in Pont-Aven, working in partnership with Émile Bernard to develop a Synthetic style of painting characterized by flattened perspectives, planes of color and pastoral subject matter (see fig. 1). By 1888, Moret had become well-acquainted with these new arrivals working at Pont-Aven and was heavily influenced by their experimental Post-Impressionist technique. Around the turn of the century however, Moret began to shift away from Synthetism and adopted a more Impressionistic vocabulary to depict the raw beauty of Brittany.

In 1895, Moret signed a contract with Durand-Ruel, who organized two exhibitions of his paintings in New York in 1900 and 1902. Moret continued to live and work in the Breton region for the remainder of his life, even as Gauguin and other Pont-Aven artists set off for other adventures. As Catherine Puget, a former conservator at the Musée du Pont-Aven, once wrote, “In effect, Moret anchored himself to Brittany and for 35 years, traveled tirelessly across the region, attentive to both its permanent character and its fleeting elements. As for the man, he isn’t a painter of the Salon; he had a thirst for solitude and for purity; he was a simple and discrete being, in love with nature and well-liked by the community, into which he integrated seamlessly, hunting, fishing and playing cards with the local inhabitants” (Catherine Puget in Henry Moret, aquarelles et peintures 1856-1913 (exhibition catalogue), Musée de Pont-Aven, Pont-Aven, 1998, p. 6).

Dominated by ravishing yet subtle shades of blues, greens and pinks, this canvas is a beautiful example from Moret’s late career, when the development of his singular style had reached full maturity. It depicts Pointe du Raz, one of the most westerly points of mainland France, where the rocky cliffs and vast expanse of the Atlantic provide a backdrop that is dramatic even for Breton standards.

This work will be included in the catalogue raisonné being prepared by Jean-Yves Rolland.