Findlay Galleries, Inc., Paris
Private Collection, Chicago
Private Collection, California
Christie's, New York, May 11, 1994, lot 165
Private Collection, USA
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared by Didier Imbert.
Gustave Loiseau was born in Paris in 1865. He spent a year at the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs in Paris and then entered the studio of the French landscape painter Fernand Just Quignon in 1889. The following year, he moved to Pont-Aven in Bretagne where he came into contact with members of the Pont-Aven School and artists like Maxime Maufra, Emile Dezaunay, and Emile Bernard. He also met Henri Moret, who influenced his Impressionist style and convinced him to exhibit his paintings at the Salon des Indépendants in 1891 and 1892.
In 1894 Louiseau met Paul Gauguin after his return from Tahiti, and a deep friendship grew between the two artists. His subsequent works possess a greater sense of structure and feature freer brushstrokes. Loiseau met with continued artistic success, exhibiting at the Salon des Independants in 1893 and at the Salon de la Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1895. Between 1890 and 1896 he regularly exhibited at the Post Impressionist shows and from 1903 to 1930 at the Salon d’Automne.
Loiseau traveled often throughout the countryside of France. He liked to paint in series, much like Monet, and attempted to capture scenes in different times of the day. He chose to depict the transformations in nature caused by changing light. Sensitive as he was to every nuance, he refused to paint in the glaring midday light – bright colors hurt his eyes; he preferred softer, subtler scenes –afternoons when the sky is dotted with clouds, the soft golden light at the end of the day, morning fog and evening mists and the dreamy effects of snow.
In our painting, Loiseau captures a charming orchard in the French commune of Hérouville, in northern France. In the foreground lithe strokes of paint in shades of verdant green depict the orchard plants for which the painting is named. Beyond lie rows of country houses, with roofs of warm copper or slate gray. The sky above seems to have a life of its own, portrayed using the artist’s quick, impressionistic brushworks in tones of blues, purples, pinks, and white. Amidst the lively and free brushwork, the viewer’s gaze is drawn back to the strong orchard branches, which are without fruit but full of promise for a coming harvest.