Oil on canvas
24 x 31 5/8 inches (61 x 80.3 cm)
Framed: 31 1/2x 36 3/4 inches
Signed lower left: Guillaumin
C. Michael Paul, Palm Beach
Perls Gallery, New York
Private collection, California
Dominique Fabiani and Philippe Cazeau will include this work in volume II of their forthcoming catalogue raisonné
This seascape by Guillaumin provides a beautiful example of the artist’s ability to capture both color and light. Guillaumin was often inspired by France’s rocky coastline as a subject, and in this painting, he represents it with a clarity that truly evokes the sense of being there. The expressive and thickly applied brushstrokes create a sense of motion in the waves that gently lap the shore, as well as in the shrubs in the forefront that blow in the breeze. Across the water are mountainous rocky outcroppings in a reddish sandy hue that makes its way into so many of Guillaumin’s paintings of the coast. Greenish tones in the clouds and reflected in the water mirror those of the greenery that lines the shore, giving the painting an overall sense of unity. The quality of this work as well as its composition and condition speak for themselves.
Guillaumin was a founding member of the now famous group of independent young French painters who organized the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874. Guillaumin’s revolutionary comrades included Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Edgar Degas, Paul Cezanne and Berthe Morisot. Guillaumin’s work appeared at six of the eight Impressionist exhibitions between 1874 and 1886. He lived the longest of all the founders of Impressionism, dying just after Claude Monet in 1927.
Guillaumin began humbly, first working at his uncle’s shop while attending evening drawing lessons. He also worked as a clerk on the Paris-Orleans railway while painting images of Montmartre and the quays of the Seine during the weekends. In 1861, he began attending the Academie Suisse, where he met Cezanne and Pissarro. Guillaumin’s influence on these artists was significant. Cezanne, for example, based his first etching on Guillaumin’s paintings of barges on the river Seine.
Guillaumin exhibited in the first Salon des Refusés in 1863, along with Pissarro and Cézanne, and in the following two years, Renoir and Monet. In the 1870s he spent time painting in Pontoise with Pissaro, and, accompanied by Cezanne, would often visit art patron Dr. Gachet at his house in Auvers.
Guillaumin’s careful study of light and color at different times of the day was fundamental to the ideology of the burgeoning Impressionist movement. The artist chose to paint outside the city, en plein air, focusing on the ever-changing atmospheric effects in nature. Guillaumin observed the multitude of ways light touched the surface of the streets, skies, water, trees, and people, and was able to capture it on canvas with an astounding subtlety and sensitivity to perception. Guillaumin had a passion for sunlight and was even seized and characterized by a sort of “violettomania,” indicated by the number of his works tinted with a lilac hue. Guillaumin’s later works are marked by a passion for color that reveals an alliance with the Fauves, while his expressive, dynamic application of paint and subtle use of impasto betray some inspiration provided by Van Gogh.
In recent years, Guillaumin’s paintings have become highly prized and sought after. He is now not only recognized as the teacher of Paul Signac, and a close friend and respected companion of many famous artists, but as a fine and significant painter in his own right.