ARMAND GUILLAUMIN (1841-1927) Les quais de Gesvres à Paris (Painted in 1874)

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Lot 26
ARMAND GUILLAUMIN
(1841-1927)
Les quais de Gèsvres à Paris

Sold for £ 50,000 (US$ 62,141) inc. premium
ARMAND GUILLAUMIN (1841-1927)
Les quais de Gèsvres à Paris
signed and dated '74 A Guillaumin' (lower left)
oil on canvas
46 x 55.5cm (18 1/8 x 21 7/8in).
Painted in 1874

Footnotes

  • The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by the Comité Guillaumin. This work will be included in Vol. II of the forthcoming Armand Guillaumin catalogue raisonné, currently being prepared.

    Provenance
    Anon. sale, Blanchet & Associés, Paris, 23 May 2012, lot 28.
    Private collection, London (acquired at the above sale); their sale, Bonhams, London, 3 February 2015, lot 21.
    Maier & Co. Fine Art, Stuttgart (acquired at the above sale).
    Private collection, Germany (acquired from the above).
    Acquired from the above by the present owner.


    Les quais de Gesvres à Paris was painted in 1874, the year of the first Impressionist exhibition which was held in the studio of the photographer, Nadar, on the Boulevard des Capucines in Paris. In the broad brushstrokes of early Impressionism and realised through deliberately restrained colours, Armand Guillaumin here portrays an everyday scene: Brittany farmers - recognisable by their costumes - transporting their fruits and vegetables on boats down the Seine to the Parisian markets, while other city inhabitants observe the bustling quayside trade.

    Guillaumin effectively conveys the energy of the scene through the animation implied by the subject itself, and by a referencing of the technical innovations taking place in the mid-nineteenth century. In the same way that, three years later, Claude Monet would give particular prominence to the smoke emitted by the new steam trains in his Gare St-Lazare series of 1877, in the present work, the white cloud from the stream-powered barges becomes Guillaumin's central motif.

    From 1872 Guillaumin had lived on the banks on the Seine at the Quai d'Anjou. This central location with its riverside surroundings offered him an excellent vantage point to observe the changing topography of rapidly industrialising Paris. Les quais de Gesvres à Paris is notable for the accuracy of its architectural and infrastructure landmarks, as witnessed through the towers of the Conciergerie on the Île de la Cité, which are depicted to the background of the composition, and the metal structure of the Pont d'Arcole which connects the Quai de Gesvres and the Quai de l'Hôtel de Ville on the right bank of the Seine, with the Quai de la Corse and the Quai aux Fleurs on the Île de la Cité. The Pont d'Arcole in particular would have been an icon of modernisation, as the city's first unsupported metal bridge of wrought rather than cast iron.

    The environs of the fourth arrondissement were the inspiration for Guillaumin's Paris and Seine representations of the 1870s, where he keenly observed the modernisation of Paris through a portrayal of its working people, industrial developments and new technology. In accordance with the Impressionist technique, Les quais de Gesvres à Paris was painted entirely en plein air, with loose, feathery brushwork to effectively describe the transient sensations of the city. In contrast to the pastoral Impressionist scenes which sought to capture the fleeting effects of light and season, Guillaumin here employs the Impressionist style to convey the dynamism of modern life. Many of Guillaumin's early Paris scenes reside in major institutional collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Musée d'Orsay, and works such as Les quais de Gesvres are testament to his importance as an early exponent of Impressionism, later becoming a key influence for Paul Cézanne and Camille Pissarro.
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