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Lot Details



1865 - 1925


Oil on canvas

Signed and dated lower right

52.5 x 90 cm (unframed); 72.5 x 109.5 cm (framed)

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Galerie Vallotton, Lausanne, no. 446

Ferdinand Ruchonnet (1920)

Emilie Ruchonnet, Lausanne

Vente villa Les Rocailles, Lausanne, 10th October 1949, lot 389

Galerie Vallotton, Lausanne (1949)

Collection B. Bossart (1963)

Galerie Kornfeld & Klipstein, Berne, 27th May 1964, lot 1266

Galerie Vallotton, Lausanne, no. 9824

Private collection, Switzerland

Koller Auktionen, Zurich, 22nd June 2012, lot 3050

Private collection (purchased at the above sale by the present owner)

Livre de raison no. 1135

Rudolf Koella, exhibition catalogue, Félix Vallotton. Bilder, Zeichnungen, Graphik, Winterthur, Bremen, Düsseldorf, Paris and Geneva, cat.no 138

Marina Ducrey in collaboration with Katia Poletti, Félix Vallotton (1865-1925), L'oeuvre peint, catalogue raisonné, Milan/Lausanne/Zurich, 2005, vol. III, no. 1201

Paris, Galerie Druet,1919, no 18

Zurich, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Félix Vallotton, 1920, no. 9

London, The Lefevre Gallery, Paintings by Félix Vallotton, 1957, no. 15

Lausanne, Galerie Vallotton, Hommage à Félix Vallotton, 1965, no. 13

Vallotton took French citizenship in 1900 and when war broke out in 1914 he volunteered for the army but was rejected on account of his age; he was forty-eight. However, the artist remained implicated in the war effort creating woodcuts such as the album C’est la Guerre! (1915) and painting works which illustrated the desolation war brought to the French countryside, such as his Paysage de Ruines et d’Incendies (1915, Kunstmuseum, Bern). In June 1917 Vallotton was sent by the Ministry of Fine Arts on a three-week trip to the front lines together with two other artists. From this difficult period for the artist resulted eight war landscapes, which were included in the exhibition “Peintres aux armées” at the Musée du Luxembourg later that year.

The present work dates from just after this period. Vallotton chooses to represent a semi-industrialized landscape at Mantes-la-Jolie, just outside Paris. Man’s impact on landscape is suggested not only through the factory chimney to the right of the composition, but also by the strict angular, almost jarring, lines of the stone embankment. As often, he chooses an unusual viewpoint and a slightly raised viewpoint for his composition. Vallotton’s landscapes rarely include people, but in the current work a small man is visible in the foreground reaching out to the water mass in an ambiguous gesture. The man is dwarfed by the wide reach of the Seine. Vallotton has restricted his palette to few colours and the beautiful purples, pale blues and bright pale green lift the mood of the otherwise slightly haunting atmosphere. In his livre de raison Vallotton refers to the colour effects: “ …brume, legère effet bleu. Tache de soleil.” Vallotton’s preference for matt surfaces is clearly visible in the flat application of paint. The artist never varnished his paintings and sometimes left instructions to this effect on the reverse of his canvases. 

This landscape from Vallotton’s maturity perfectly illustrates his ideas on landscape painting expressed in his journal on 5th October 1916: “I dream of a painting entirely disengaged from any literal concern about nature. I want to construct landscapes entirely based on the emotions that they have created in me, a few evocative lines, one or two details, chosen, without a superstition of the exactitude of the hour or the lighting.”

This work is registered in the Swiss Institute for Art Research (SIK-ISEA) under no. 37483.