Lot 106
  • 106

HENRY MORET | Les Rochers à Quessant

80,000 - 120,000 USD
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  • Les Rochers à Quessant
  • Signed Henry Moret. and dated -1902. (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 25 3/4 by 36 1/4 in.
  • 65.4 by 92.1 cm
  • Painted in 1902.


Arthur Tooth & Sons, Ltd., London
Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, Pennsylvania
Hammer Galleries, New York 
A. Singer, United States (and sold: Sotheby's, New York, November 6, 1981, lot 324)
Acquired at the above sale 


This work is in very good condition. The canvas has been lined. The surface is richly textured and the colors are well preserved. There are extremely fine lines of craquelure throughout. Under UV light: There is some very minor retouching to all four edges, as well as to the upper right and lower left corners. There are very minor strokes of inpainting to the cracks in the center of the sky.
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 Synthetic 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 overwhelming anxiety of modern Parisian life, a restless 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. By 1888, Moret had become well-acquainted with these new arrivals working at Pont-Aven and was heavily influenced by their experimental Post-Impressionist sensibilities. Around the turn of the century however, Moret began to shift away from Synthetism and reverted to more Impressionistic techniques to bring the wild beauty of Brittany to life.

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 Brittany for the remainder of his life, even as Gauguin and other Pont-Aven artists sailed away for other adventures. As Catherine Puget writes, "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).

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