Oil on canvas
18 1/2 x 21 3/4 inches (47 x 55 cm)
Signed: Picabia 1906
Hilde Gerst Gallery, New York
Private collection, New York
The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by Mr. Robert Martin, Membre du Syndicat Francais des experts professionnels enoeuvres d’art.
Francis Picabia was born in 1879, to a Spanish father and a French mother. Picabia studied at the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs from 1895 to 1897. He went on to study with other influential teachers including Fernand Cormon, Ferdinand Humbert and Albert Charles Wallet. In the winter of 1902, he began painting in the impressionist manner and immediately began exhibiting these works at the Salon d’Autommes and the Salon des Independants. He already had his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Haussman in 1905.
Picabia’s early Impressionist work remained among his best periods. In 1908, he was influenced by elements of Cubism, Fauvism and Neo-impressionism. Around 1912, Picabia became acquainted with Guillaume Apollinaire and Marcel Duchamp and associated with the Puteaux group. He exhibited in the 1913 Armory show, which exposed him to American art and the avant garde. The same year, he was given a solo exhibition at Alfred Steilgiltz’s gallery, 291. He became more interested in mechanist and mechanomorphic styles and participated in Dada manifestations in New York. He moved to Barcelona in 1916, and remained involved with the Dadaists in Zurich and Paris.
By 1921 he denounced Dada and returned to figurative art. During World War II, he resided in Mougins and became close with Gertrude Stein. Back in Paris, he returned again to abstract painting. In 1949, a retrospective of his work was held at the Galerie Rene Drouin in Paris. Picabia died in 1953 in Paris.
Our painting is an excellent example of Picabia’s early impressionist style. It is a lovely summer scene of a small canal bathed in bright sunlight. Lush trees line the edge of the canal on the right and on the left a tall wall follows the path along the water. A woman walks along the path while some ducks float in the water amongst the reflections of the clouds, sky and trees. The vibrant surface of the painting and short brushstrokes captures the sunlight and shadows of the bright day.