Henri Edmond Cross (1856-1910)

Rio san Trovaso, Venise

Henri Edmond Cross (1856-1910)
Rio san Trovaso, Venise
signed 'Henri Edmond Cross' (lower left)
oil on canvas
28¾ x 36¼ in. (73.2 x 92 cm.)
Painted September 1903-January 1904
Théo van Rysselberghe, Brussels (acquired from the artist, 1904).
Marie Lange, Germany (by 1907).
Private collection, Germany (by descent from the above); sale, Christie's, London, 3 December 1990, lot 18.
Private collection, Belgium; sale, Sotheby's, London, 21 June 2004, lot 38.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
I. Compin, H.E. Cross, Paris, 1964, pp. 208 and 220.
D.E. Gordon, Modern Art Exhibitions 1900-1916, Munich, 1974, vol. I, p. 224 (illustrated).
J.-J. Levêque, Les Années de la Belle Epoque: 1890-1914, Paris, 1991, p. 452 (illustrated).
Brussels, La Libre Esthétique, Exposition des Peintres Impressionnistes, 1904, no. 23.
Krefeld, Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Exposition d'Art Français, 1907. Cologne, Städtische Ausstellungshalle, Internationale Kunstausstellung der Sonderbundes Westdeutscher Kunstfreunde und Künstler, 1912, no. 188 (illustrated in color; titled, Canale grande).
Munich, Bayerische Staats-Gemäldesammlungen (on extended loan).
Sale room notice
This work will be included in the forthcoming Henri Edmond Cross catalogue raisonné being prepared by Patrick Offenstadt.

Lot Essay

This work will be included in the forthcoming Henri Edmond Cross catalogue raisonné being prepared by Patrick Offenstadt.

In July 1903, Cross and his wife left Paris and travelled to Venice. During his stay, Cross explored the city extensively, falling under the spell of Venice's incontestable magic. The artist's journal records his enthusiasm for the art of the Bellinis, Carpaccio and Guardi (although Bassano and Canaletto recieve shorter shrift), and his notebooks quickly filled with drawings and watercolors of the canals and the lagune. Writing to fellow neo-impressionist Charles Angrand, Cross, an established resident of the South of France, wrote: "The admiration and the taste that one has for the coast of Provence prepares one for the sensual joy of Venice. Their two contrasted beauties create a happy balance: one is brown and stripped bare, the other is blonde and bedecked in the most marvelous jewels. As it is in Titian's Sacred and Profane Love, the two gaze at one another in the same water" (quoted in F. Baligand et al, Cross et le néo-impressionnisme, exh. cat., Chartreuse de Douai, 1998-1999, p. 42).

In the space of only a few years the scientists Odgen Rood, Michel-Eugène Chevreul and Charles Henry each published theories of light and color in which they analyzed the differentiation between color-light and color-pigment and suggested a connection between musical theory and emotive line. Their findings provoked the interest of a group of young artists who were frustrated by the Impressionists' approach to painting the effects of light and atmosphere. These artists began to experiment with the scientific notion of optical mixing by creating forms out of small dots of pure pigment in their painting. Though Cross was friendly with many of the painters who comprised what came to be called the Neo-Impressionist group, he did not start painting divisionist pictures until after Georges Seurat's death in 1891 and, when he did, he quickly developed his own variant of their technique. He abandoned their use of the dot in favor of separated rectangular strokes of pure pigment that he applied in a manner not unlike the tessera in mosaics. Cross constructed his compositions with interlocking planes and careful juxtaposition of complementary colors. A letter from Cross to Paul Signac dated 1 September 1895 explained that his ultimate aim was to have "technique cede its place to sensation" (I. Compin, op. cit., p. 42).

In 1904 Cross chose to exhibit four Venetian paintings, including the present work, at the Libre Esthétique in Brussels. In the same year Théo van Ryssleberghe, Cross's Neo-Impressionist colleague, acquired Rio san Trovaso, Venise. The work then passed to the important Lange collection in Germany before 1907. It was from the Lange family that the present work was lent to the momentous Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne in 1912, one of the pivotal shows of early modern art history.

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