Yachting in the Archipelago
1852 - 1929
Yachting in the Archipelago
signed and dated H. Gervex 1898 (lower right)
oil on canvas
canvas: 39 ⅝ by 51½ in.; 100.6 by 130.8 cm.
framed: 46 ⅜ by 58 in.; 147.3 by 177.7 cm.
The following condition report was kindly provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.: This work is in excellent condition overall. The canvas is still stretched on its original stretcher. The painting seems to be clean and lightly varnished. The varnish has become slightly soft. The only retouches visible under ultraviolet light are in the sky between the masts to the right of the standing woman on the left side. There are a few non-original brown spots on the surface in the dress of the woman knitting, in the canopy above the hat, and in a few other isolated areas, which could easily be removed.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
Henri Gervex painted Yachting in the Archipelago in 1898, while a guest on board the magnificent yacht, Namouna, belonging to Gordon Bennett, the owner of the New York Herald and an international media entrepreneur. Bennett, who is probably depicted as the gentleman in white suit, leaning against the cabin in the posture of Captain of his vessel, moved frequently between New York and Paris. He occasionally commissioned Gervex to provide illustrations for the Herald and often included the artist among the fashionable European and American guests on the most current of his several renowned yachts. For Gervex, an artist entirely committed to painting the very real events and most fashionable details of his day, Yachting in the Archipelago represents a fascinating intersection between his personal and professional lives.
Gervex was born in Paris in 1852 and trained for five years in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts studio of the influential Academic master Alexandre Cabanel. His skill as a draughtsman as well as a sensitive colorist helped Gervex to forge important friendships with both the best academic artists of his generation and several of the most innovative artists building careers (and the new movement of Impressionism) outside of the established Academic strictures. Gervex began his own career with several well-received Salon entries featuring traditional subject matter such as satyrs and vaguely mythologic bathers; but by 1876, he began to claim a new, more contemporary footing with Autopsie a l'Hotel Dieu (now lost). In 1878 Gervex firmly moved into enfant terrible territory with his brilliant and beautifully realized depiction of a troubled young man-of-the-town turning away from a magnificent nude prostitute still asleep on the bed beside him. That painting, Rolla (Paris, Musee d'Orsay), although accepted at the Salon on the basis of the young artist's already-medalled stature was precipitously withdrawn on the accusation of 'immorality', only to become the art season's most popular success when displayed in a nearby art dealer's establishment for three months! Henceforth, Gervex embarked on a consistently impressive path that balanced important state and municipal decorative commissions presenting highly realistic scenes and public events of modern French daily life, executed on a suitably grand scale, with a countering pattern of smaller, more intimately drawn, highly detailed, paintings of Paris social and family life destined for an increasingly international market of private collectors.
In Yachting in the Archipelago, Gervex carefully spreads his vaunted attention to detail between the colorfully and individually characterized guests aboard the yacht, with their lapdogs, yellow-covered novels, and meandering balls of pink yarn; and the fittings of the luxurious ship itself. Bennett's yachts were famous in their own right, both for the numerous races he won and sponsored, and for the cares taken in assuring passenger comfort, such as the canvas panels, rolled now to the edge of the overhead tarpaulin, that could be easily dropped as sun- or wind-screens. Although the identities of Mr. Bennett's guests are not known, except for Mme. Gervex, the artist’s wife, leaning against the railing in deep conversation with a guest, the distinctiveness of the figures' individuality suggests they may well be portraits of the artist's actual companions on his 1898 voyage with the publisher.
We are grateful to Alexandra Murphy for providing this catalogue note and additional information.