Private Collection, California
Born in Melun in 1870, Georges D’Espagnat’s family moved to Paris when he was a young man. He was largely self-taught as an artist, eschewing the traditional art schools and rejecting the strict formalities of the Paris academies, and instead studying the works of the great masters found at the Louvre. He became involved with prominent Impressionist painters of the time and began his public career at the Salon des Refusées in 1891, and later exhibited at the Salon of the Société Nationale and the Salon des Independents, both venues known for their openness to modern trends.
In 1895, D’Espagnat had his first solo exhibition at the Le Barc de Boutteville Gallery in Paris. In 1903 D’Espagnat, along with the architect Frantz Jourdain and critic Ivanhoe Rambosson, founded the Salon d’Automne with the purpose of creating an alternative exhibition venue for young artists and for retrospectives of the modern artists who had been rejected at the end of the earlier century. In 1907 his work was included in the Marcel Bernheim Gallery Group Exhibition with Bonnard, Cezanne, Matisse, Pissarro, Rouault, Seurat, and Toulouse-Lautrec. He was elected vice president of the Salon d’Automne in Paris in 1935, D’Espagnat was an active member at the Salon while teaching at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts until the 1940s. His work is in the collection of numerous museums and public collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Musée du Theatre National de l’Opera in Paris, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston, the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.
Our painting demonstrates a masterful understanding of design, color, composition and draftsmanship. Waiting by the Lake is punctuated by a large tree, its great, narrow trunk leading up to the sky. At its base is a pink rosebush, full of blooms. Near the bush, a young woman in a red blouse and blue skirt leans over a wall, gazing down at a letter and contemplating. Beyond her is lovely pale blue water, framed by sloping cliffs. The sky above has the warm orange glow of the setting sun. The composition overall has hallmarks of Impressionism, but D’Espagnat has also included the solid and durable form of the tree, wall and figure more akin to the classical art he studied at the Louvre.