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Théo van Rysselberghe (1862-1926)
EXCEPTIONAL WORKS FROM THE TRITON COLLECTION FOUNDATION Christie’s is honoured to be offering for sale a significant group of works from the Triton Collection Foundation, which continues to evolve and grow in new areas. The collection spans a range of artistic movements from early Impressionism through to Post-War art, establishing the Foundation as a leading institution to carry out its many philanthropic aims. Over many years the Foundation has considered public access to its works as a fundamental pillar of its collecting ethos. A continuous dialogue with curators around the world and an extensive loan programme to over seventy museums globally has made this dream a reality and benefited exhibitions at the likes of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid, the Seoul Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Art. These collaborations have ensured that an international audience has consistently had the opportunity to appreciate the quality and breadth of the collection, which stretches from classic Impressionism through to Surrealism and beyond to Post-War work by the major American artists. The sales of the major works in this season’s auctions will give the opportunity to the Foundation to continue its excellent, philanthropic work. The last major de-acquisition from the collection took place in our salerooms in Paris in March 2015 when the Exceptional Works on Paper from the Triton Collection Foundation sale elicited huge interest from collectors and public institutions around the globe: Those works, which had been collected by its founders over many years, saw spectacular prices for top quality pieces by artists such as Camille Pissarro and Fernand Léger, further to the numerous world record prices achieved for works on paper by Claude-Emile Schuffenecker, Paul-Elie Ranson and Frédéric Bazille. This strong market reaction is in recognition of the eye with which they had originally been selected. The group of works being sold across our Impressionist sales here in London includes seminal examples of French Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and the European avant-garde, from Claude Monet’s luminous Vétheuil of 1879 to Jan Toorop’s resonating symbolist 1902 composition, Faith and Reward. Each of these works has been bought with a very discerning eye, and often the provenances of the pieces are as noble as the works themselves. We wish the Foundation great success with these sales as well as their future projects and continuous development of the Triton Collection Foundation.Jussi PylkkänenGlobal President, Christie’s
Théo van Rysselberghe (1862-1926)

Champ de course à Boulogne-sur-Mer

Théo van Rysselberghe (1862-1926)
Champ de course à Boulogne-sur-Mer
signed with the monogram and dated ‘1900’ (lower left)
oil on canvas
23 x 30 1/4 in. (58.5 x 76.8 cm.)
Painted in 1900
Eugène Descaves, Paris; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 28 March 1919, lot 72.
Anonymous sale, Galerie Georges Giroux, Brussels, 9 November 1933, lot 200.
Anonymous sale, Galerie Georges Giroux, Brussels, 14 March 1936, lot 309.
G. Vanderhaeghen, Ghent, by 1962.
Anonymous sale, Christie’s, London, 27 June 1988, lot 15.
Private collection, United States, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Anonymous sale, Sotheby’s, New York, 8 November 1994, lot 9.
Private collection, United States, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Galerie De Jonckheere, Brussels.
Maurice Keitelman, Brussels.
Waring Hopkins, Paris.
Triton Collection Foundation, The Netherlands, by whom acquired from the above in 2000.
T. van Rysselberghe, Letter to François Viélé-Griffin, 11 August 1899, as 'champ de courses'.
G. van Zype, 'Notice sur Théo van Rysselberghe', in Annuaire de l'Académie royale de Belgique, Brussels, 1932, p. 35 (dated '1899').
G. Pogu, Théo van Rysselberghe. Sa vie. Premiers éléments, 1963, p. 22.
D. E. Gordon, Modern Art Exhibitions, 1900-1916, Munich, 1974, p. 26.
S. Goyens de Heusch, Het impressionnisme en het fauvisme in België, Antwerp, 1988, p. 204 (illustrated).
R. Feltkamp, Théo Van Rysselberghe, 1862-1926, Catalogue raisonné, Brussels, 2003, no. 1900-009, pp. 326 & 494 (illustrated pp. 83 & 326).
S. van Heugten, Avant-gardes, 1870 to the present: The Collection of the Triton Foundation, Brussels, 2012, p. 562 (illustrated pp. 86-87).
Brussels, La Libre Esthétique, Huitième Exposition, March 1901, no. 468, p. 41.
Bilbao, Sociedad El Sitio, 1901.
Vienna, Secession Building, Entwicklung des Impressionismus in Malerei und Plastik, XVI, January - February 1903, no. 122, p. 32 (titled ‘Pferderennen’).
Ghent, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rétrospective Théo van Rysselberghe, July - September 1962, no. 76, p. 42.
Deurle, Stichting Léon de Smet, Peintres Flamandes XIX-XX siècle, May - June 1981, no. 49.
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Théo van Rysselberghe, February - May 2006, pp. 65-66 & 258 (illustrated p. 65); this exhibition later travelled to The Hague, Gemeentemuseum, June - September 2006.
The Hague, Gemeentemuseum, Meer dan kleur. Fauvisme en expressionisme uit de collectie van de Triton Foundation, April - September 2009, pp. 10- 11 (illustrated p. 10).
Rotterdam, Kunsthal, Avant-gardes: De collectie van de Triton Foundation, October 2012 - January 2013.

Brought to you by

Keith Gill
Keith Gill

Lot Essay

We thank Olivier Bertrand for providing additional information on this painting which will be included in his Théo van Rysselberghe catalogue raisonné.

Conceived during an extended sojourn on the Northern coast of France, Champ de course a' Boulogne-sur-Mer combines the incredible precision of Théo van Rysselberghe’s Pointillist technique with the energy and excitement of the horse race, capturing the majestic animals as they thunder through the vibrant, undulating landscape of the course at Boulogne-sur-Mer. Like many harbours along the Normandy coast, Boulogne-sur-Mer had undergone something of a transformation during the Nineteenth Century, developing into a popular bathing resort for wealthy Parisians, following the arrival of a railway link to the capital. It was also one of the main ports for cross-Channel ferry services to England, which resulted in the development of a healthy tourist industry in the town. Van Rysselberghe travelled to the Normandy coast in 1899, basing himself in the small town of Ambleteuse, just 12 kilometres north of the harbour at Boulogne-sur-Mer. It is most likely that Van Rysselberghe travelled to the hustle and bustle of the larger port town specially to see the races, which were a popular social sporting event at the turn of the century. Positioning himself mid-way through the course, rather than near the finish line and grandstands, Van Rysselberghe captures a dynamic view of the flight of the horses in the very heat of the race.

The fashion for racing on a fixed track had only entered the French consciousness in the 1830s, when the influence of British investors active in Le Havre, Rouen and Paris sparked a series of innovations in the social life of the upper classes. A number of prestigious clubs dedicated to the sport soon sprang up around France, with l’Union and Le Jockey Club amongst the most distinguished, while racecourses and general race meetings began to be staged with increasing frequency throughout the country. In Paris, the Longchamp racecourse opened in the Bois de Boulogne to much fanfare in 1857, and it quickly became a magnet for the fashionable echelons of Parisian society, with the racing season drawing crowds of well-to-do spectators who would promenade through the park in the cutting edge fashions of the day. Like most Parisian entertainments of the time, the races were an opportunity for social display and interaction as much as a sporting event, where close attention to the goings-on of the race was not as high a priority as the keen observation of who was in attendance and what they were wearing. Artists such as Manet and Degas returned again and again to the bustle of Longchamp in their paintings, diligently observing the social rituals of the crowds enjoying the spectacle, but also displaying a keen interest in the excitement and drama of the horse race itself. For example, there is a distinct sense of the thrill of the race in Manet’s Les courses de chevaux au bois de Boulogne, which captures a view of the leading protagonists as they dash past the artist, the horses’ legs stretched to their full expanse as they gallop by, fighting to reach the finish line first.

Van Rysselberghe’s rendering of the races at Boulogne-sur-Mer captures the almost carnival atmosphere of the event, the grandstands in the distance bustling with the colourful mass of crowds cheering on their favourite jockeys and horses, while the bright flags marking the finish line flutter in the strong breeze that sweeps through the landscape. Adopting a profile view of the horses as they navigate the steeplechase course, the artist displays a keen interest in the drama of the whole event rather than just the desperate dash in the last moments of the race as the horses reach the final straight. Capturing a snapshot of the lead group as they navigate an obstacle, the horses sailing through the air as they jump the fence, Van Rysselberghe imbues the composition with a sense of the dangers inherent in each fence, the exertion of the horses as they tackle each jump or incline, and the intense thrill of the action.

With its nuanced play of colour and vibrant brushwork, Champ de course à Boulogne-sur-Mer also demonstrates the growing individuality of Van Rysselberghe’s Pointillist technique during this period, as he took a decisive step away from the precise, uniform, round brush-marks advocated by the movement’s founder, Georges Seurat. In this composition, Van Rysselberghe fills the canvas with dots of varying shape and size, introducing a vibrant sense of variety to the surface of the painting. The landscape in the foreground, for example, is filled with small, slightly elongated daubs of pigment, while the horses and rider are formed using longer, thinner strokes of paint that seem to flow with the contours of their bodies. The structures in the distance, meanwhile, are captured using almost rectangular strokes of paint, the forms of the small tents and horseboxes on either side of the central grandstand appearing without any of the densely packed dots that fill the rest of the canvas. Van Rysselberghe’s evolving technique is perhaps most evident in the rich painterly surface of the sky, where small points of blue and white paint sit directly alongside the large, thick strokes used in the massive columns of clouds that tower above the scene. By introducing these varying textures and shapes to the canvas, Van Rysselberghe heightens the dynamic visual effect of the Pointillist technique, lending the composition a new energy and spirit which reflects the excitement of the horse race.

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