Les jets d'eau, Versailles signed 'Le Sidaner' (lower left) oil on canvas 59 1/2 x 49 3/8 in. (151 x 125.5 cm) Painted in 1922
PROVENANCE Galeries Georges Petit (inv. no. 5837). Henri Duhem, Douai (acquired from the above). Nelly Sergeant-Duhem, Juan-les-Pins (by descent from the above). Private Collection, Paris.
EXHIBITED Paris, Salon de la Société National des Beaux Arts, 1922, no. 619. Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, Twenty-second international exhibition, May 1923, no. 208. Paris, Galeries Georges Petit, Exposition Le Sidaner, February 1925, no. 1.
LITERATURE Revue de l'Art Ancien et Moderne, May 1922. Le Figaro Artistique, 19 February 1925. C. Mauclair, Le Sidaner, Paris, 1928, illustrated p. 99. A. Acremant, 'Le Sidaner', Drogues et Peintures, XXXV, 1936 [n.n.]. Y. Farinaux-Le Sidaner, Le Sidaner, l'oeuvre peint et gravé, Milan, 1989, no. 482, illustrated.
Le Sidaner moved to Versailles in 1903, and the combination of the bosky vistas and the sparkling fountains of the formal gardens found a natural expression in his light-filled compositions. The present work is the largest of that series, and one of the last works that he exhibited at the Salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. In 1923 he transferred his allegiance to the newly-instituted Salon des Tuileries along with Besnard, Blanche and Henri Duhem, first owner of the present work and one of the founders of the new exhibition.
The mid-1920s was a significant period for Le Sidaner, and saw the full expression of his mature style. As the critic Jacques Baschet noted in 1924, 'he is a pointilliste, but not the kind who decomposes tones and applies them unmixed, thereby letting our eyes reconstitute the colours on our retina. His palette is extremely varied and subtle. The oils bind and melt together in delicate harmonies. Nor is he the kind to enclose forms within a heavy brushstroke, as is the practice among the younger school of painters. With him, contours seem to emerge from the interplay of light, and in this respect, he is similar to Claude Monet.' (J. Baschet , L'Illustration, 1924, quoted in Y. Farinaux-Le Sidaner, op. cit., p. 37).
The importance of Les jets d'eau, Versailles is indicated by the fact that it was bought from Galeries Georges Petit by Henri Duhem (1860-1941), a friend of Le Sidaner, a painter and in the manner of Gustave Caillebotte a noted collector of the works of his contemporaries. Duhem, originally from Douai in the north of France near the Belgian border, had trained as a lawyer, although his first love was painting. In 1893 he abandoned the law and devoted himself to painting, encouraged by friends such as Auguste Rodin, Camille Pissarro and Le Sidaner himself. He exhibited regularly at the Salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, and was the subject of two one-man exhibitions under the patronage of the critic Claude Roger-Marx, at the Galerie Druet in 1904 and at the Galeries Georges Petit in 1908. His lasting fame is however probably as a result of his activity as a collector. He formed a representative array of paintings and sculpture by among others Boudin, Guillaumin, Gauguin (the Tahitian Bouquet de Fleurs of 1897), Monet (the Promenade près d'Argenteuil of 1875), Pissarro, Rodin, Renoir, Sisley and Le Sidaner, the artist whose work his own painting most resembled. His only son was killed in the First World War, and his first wife died broken hearted in 1918. In the following years he became increasingly active as a collector, eventually leaving Douai, whose destruction in the war reminded him of his loss, and in the shadow of the Second World War moved south to a villa at Juan-les-Pins. His collection was inherited by his adopted daughter Nelly Sergeant-Duhem who, at her father's request, donated the greater part of the collection to the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. It is now one of the three main holdings of the Musée Marmottan.