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).
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