Fine Art

Henry Moret

French, 1856-1913

The Red Sail

Oil on canvas
19 x 17 inches (47.5 x 43.2 cm)
Signed and dated lower right: Moret 1909


Private collection, Germany


This work will be reproduced in the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné being prepared by Jean-Yves Rolland

Mr. Jean-Yves Rolland has confirmed the authenticity of this painting via COA, July 2011.

Henry Moret began his training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, in the ateliers of masters Jean-Léon Gérome and Jean-Paul Laurens. In 1880, at the age of twenty-three, Moret made his debut at the Salon, earning the praise of his academic masters but already seeking a more expressive technique. Though he was well received in the academic salons and exhibited widely, his artistic interests were more closely aligned with the avant-garde ideas of the Impressionist school.  He therefore sought to combine the two in terms of appreciation and application. 

In 1886, drawn to the beauty and timelessness of Brittany, Moret moved to Pont-Aven, already home to fellow artists Paul Gauguin, Emile Bernard, and Jacques Jourdan.  He was accepted immediately into their group, and quickly became one of the most famous artists in Pont-Aven.  His canvases gradually exhibited the new theories of the Synthetists with their flatter forms and bold colors.  With this type of work Moret marked his full abandonment of the academic tradition for the modern. Though he did not exhibit with the Synthetists at the Cafe Volpini exhibition in Paris in 1889, he did join them when moving to Pouldu.   Subsequently he exhibited with them at the Salon des Indépendants, the Salon d'Automne and shows in Le Barc de Boutteville.

By 1895, Moret had signed an agreement with the Galerie Durand-Ruel, which freed him from financial worries while requiring him to paint the popular en plein-air landscapes typical of the Impressionists.  This led to the gradual cessation of the Synthetist doctrine in his work.  His subsequent canvases of Brittany were boldly colored landscapes that uniquely fused elements of Symbolism with Impressionism, reflecting a more pronounced alliance with the latter due to his direct observation of nature and the free manner of his painting. 

His Monet-inspired, poetic depictions of the Breton countryside and coastline became very popular, as did his paintings and sketches of the local peasants and fishermen. Our painting is located at Le Belon, a small river which empties into the ocean, near to the Aven River.

Our example is a striking composition of energy and color. It features two boats sailing through the water near the shore. The eponymous red sail is depicted using vibrant shades of scarlet, which are reflected into the rich of the blue water. Thick impasto is used to create the rolling red countryside full of lush green bushes, bright green grass and fluffy clouds. The brushstrokes were applied with quick, lively motions, imparting a sense of movement and energy throughout the composition.