Details & Cataloguing

A Living Legacy: Irish Art from the Collection of Brian P. Burns


Roderic O'Conor
1860 - 1940
studio stamp atelier O'CONOR on the reverse
oil on canvas
65.5 by 54.5cm., 25¾ by 21½in.
Painted circa 1913
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report


The artist's studio sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 7 February 1956;
Roland, Browse & Delbanco, London, sold to George Szpiro;
Sotheby’s, London, 18 May 2000, lot 124


London, Roland, Browse & Delbanco, Two Masters of Colour: Matthew Smith and Roderic O'Conor, 1956, no.18;
London, Roland, Browse & Delbanco, Roderic O'Conor, A Selection of his Best Work, 1971, no.16;
London, Barbican Art Gallery, Roderic O'Conor, 1985, no.59 (as Brittany Coastline), with tour to Ulster Museum, Belfast, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin and Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester;
London, Browse & Darby, Roderic O'Conor, 26 October - 26 November 1994, no.35 (lent by Mrs Szpiro)

Catalogue Note

O'Conor spent much of 1913 in Cassis, painting the surrounding coast, cliffs, orchards and villas. It was one of the most productive episodes in his career and, as it turned out, his last serious landscape-painting excursion for two decades. Just like the Fauves before him, he was overwhelmed by the explosion of light and colour under the brighter southern sun. In response his palette brightened noticeably and he applied the oil paint sparingly in semi-transparent stains and washes, allowing the canvas priming to shine through and lend added luminosity to his pictures.

Landscape with Bay is one of two paintings O'Conor devoted to the same subject captured in overcast conditions - a rocky inlet typical of the deeply indented coastline in the vicinity of Cassis. The other version was acquired by the art critic Roger Fry who befriended and corresponded with the Irishman, esteeming him for his modernity and connoisseurship. The present work's limpid colouring and open network of broken brushstrokes are reminiscent of Pierre Bonnard, who was represented in O'Conor's private collection by two oil paintings. The dark tree or bush in the foreground acts as a repoussoir, a spatial anchor point that divides foreground from middle ground and hazy distance.

Jonathan Benington

A Living Legacy: Irish Art from the Collection of Brian P. Burns