Paul Sérusier (1864-1927)
Paul Sérusier (1864-1927)


Paul Sérusier (1864-1927)
signed 'P. Ser' (lower right); signed again and titled 'Sérusier Pèlerinage' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
35 ¾ x 26 ¾ in. (91 x 68 cm.)
Painted in 1894
Private collection, Germany.
Galerie Schwarzer, Dusseldorf.
Claude Kéchichian, Paris.
Olivier Thomas, Paris.
Acquired by the present owner, 2002.
M. Guicheteau, Paul Sérusier, Paris, 1976, vol. I, p. 173.
C. Boyle-Turner, Paul Sérusier, La technique, L'oeuvre peint, Lausanne, 1988, p. 156.
Paris, Galerie Samuel Bing, Salon de L'Art Nouveau, Premier catalogue, Peintures, pastels, aquarelles, dessins, December 1895-January 1896, no. 175.
Paris, Galerie E. Druet, Exposition annuelle du 1er groupe, 15e année, January-February 1925, no. 39.

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Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco

Lot Essay

The Comité Sérusier has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

For Sérusier and his colleagues, the Brittany region held a welcomed contrast to la vie moderne of Paris at the turn of the century. The Breton culture and way of life was quite distinctive in its unspoiled and timeless tranquility, and Sérusier was fascinated by the rustic beauty and simplicity of life in the region. As John Rewald explained, “It was not a particularly varied landscape, yet it had a character of peacefulness to which the almost superstitiously devout Catholicism of the peasants in their picturesque Breton costumes added a touch of medieval mysticism” (Post-Impressionism from Van Gogh to Gauguin, New York, 1956, p. 167).
Over the course of his time spent in Brittany, Sérusier developed his own aesthetic to commemorate the mysticism of the natural world he observed around him. The present work likely depicts a famous pilgrimage that takes place every year in Châteauneuf-du-Faou. The figures proceed in an orderly manner through the “sacred woods,” one of the most significant examples of a symbolist, deeply spiritual interpretation of the landscape. The origins can be found in the poem Correspondances by Charles Baudelaire, which assimilates nature to a temple and human life to a path through a "forest of symbols.” Trees are viewed as pillars which connect the material world with a higher reality. Here, the gnarled, sprawling branches cut across the composition, accentuating the long, winding curve of worshippers receding into the distance. The figures walk in search of a spirituality which is reflected in the nature which surrounds them. Invested by the invisible and the supernatural, the woods become the place where religious visions are manifested, such as in Sérusier’s mentor, Paul Gauguin’s La vision du sermon (fig. 1).

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