Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

New York

Paul Sérusier
1864 - 1927
Signed P Sérusier (lower right)
Oil on canvas
28 by 35 3/4 in.
71 by 91 cm
Painted circa 1915-18. 
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The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the Comité Paul Serusier.


Estate of the artist
Henriette Boutaric, Paris
Acquired from the above circa 1960


Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, 1979 (on loan)

Catalogue Note

Bretonnes au livre is one of the serene compositions that Sérusier completed in Brittany, where he worked closely with Paul Gauguin, Émile Bernard and Meyer de Haan as well as other artists known collectively as the Pont-Aven School. The Breton town of Pont-Aven and nearby Le Pouldu were unique for the distinctive culture of the local people and their timeless way of life, which offered a dramatic contrast to the modernity of Paris at the turn of the century. Sérusier and his colleagues were fascinated with the simplicity and rustic beauty of this region and depicted the daily activities of the local peasants in many of their compositions.

The present work, which the artist executed circa 1890 at the height of his involvement with the Pont-Aven group, depicts the tranquil beauty that fascinated these artists during the early part of the 1890s. Under Gauguin’s influence Sérusier began to experiment with a new style of painting, using flat colors and outlining simple forms chosen for both emotional and descriptive reasons. Maurice Denis noted how Gauguin initially explained to Sérusier his ideas about painting: "What color do you see that tree? Is it green? Then use green, the finest green in your palette. And that shadow? It’s blue, if anything? Don’t be afraid to paint it as blue as you possibly can" (Maurice Denis, “L’Influence de Paul Gauguin,” in L’Occidente, October 1903, n.p.).

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

New York