The rural idyll that was fast disappearing in England, still existed in Provence and Liguria for Henry La Thangue. This land of aloes, cacti, 'sun-smitten rocks' and 'terraced mountain slopes' held a special attraction for the British tourists who populated its coastline. Looking out on the azure waters of the Mediterranean they escaped 'the fogs and bronchitis of our inhospitable northern island'.
1 Flowers grew in great abundance in this area and were cultivated for use in the perfumeries of Grasse. In tiny settlements clinging to hillsides the local peasantry tended ancient vineyards and kept a few hens and goats. Having established a base in one such village, Bormes-les-Mimosas, La Thangue frequently travelled along the coast setting up his easel at Martigues, (see lot 21), St Jeannet and other villages. Avoiding the hottest part of the day, he frequently captured the morning or evening light in canvases that expressed his own unique Impressionism, hailed by Walter Sickert at his Leicester Galleries exhibition in 1914 for its classic qualities. 2 Such landscapes were, according to The Academy, 'alive and palpitating with light and air', while 'his handling and mastery of colour is daring and exact'. 3 They were also, like the present example, daringly simple.
1 Grant Allen, 'The Riviera' in The Picturesque Mediterranean, Its Cities, Shores and Islands, n.d., c. 1892, (Cassell), p.265.
2 Walter Sickert, 'Mr La Thangue's Paintings', The New Age, 7 May 1914, pp. 17-18; quoted in McConkey 1978, pp. 13-14.
3 Anon, 'The Leicester Galleries', The Academy, 25 April 1914, pp. 529-30.