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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection

Rio San Trovaso, Venise

Rio San Trovaso, Venise
signed ‘Henri Edmond Cross’ (lower left); titled 'Rio san Trovaso' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
28 3/4 x 36 1/4 in. (73 x 92 cm.)
Painted between September 1903-January 1904
Théo van Rysselberghe, Brussels (acquired from the artist, 1904).
Victor Freiherr von Mutzenbecher, Berlin (1912).
Marie Lange, Germany.
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.
Private collection, United States (acquired at the above sale); sale, Christie's, New York, 6 May 2009, lot 21.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
The Artist's Handbook, July-August 1903.
Letter from H.E. Cross to C. Angrand, 3 February 1904.
Letter from H.E. Cross to C. Angrand, 7 February 1904.
"Petite chronique" in L'art moderne, 3 April 1904, p. 116.
Letter from T. van Rysselberghe to O. Maus, 1904.
F. Fénéon, ed., “Les carnets d’H.E. Cross” in Bulletin de la vie artistique, 1 July 1922, no. 13, p. 302.
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, no. 1019 (illustrated).
J.-J. Levêque, Les années de la Belle Epoque: 1890-1914, Paris, 1991, p. 452 (illustrated in color).
B. Schaefer, 1912 Mission moderne, Die Jahrhundertschau des Sonderbundes, exh. cat., Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, 2012, p. 561, no. 188 (illustrated in color).
Brussels, La Libre Esthétique, Exposition des peintres Impressionnistes, February-March 1904, p. 27, no. 23.
Krefeld, Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Exposition d'Art Français, May-July 1907, p. 17, no. 28 (titled Ponte Moro (Venise)).
Cologne, Städtische Ausstellungshalle, Internationale Kunstausstellung der Sonderbundes, May-September 1912, no. 188 (illustrated, fig. 26; titled Canale grande).
Munich, Bayerische Staats-Gemäldesammlungen (on loan).
Oregon, Portland Art Museum; Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; New Orleans Museum of Art and Seattle Art Museum, Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, October 2015-May 2017, p. 88, no. 19 (illustrated in color, p. 89; detail illustrated in color, pp. 90-91).
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.
Further details
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Henri Edmond Cross being prepared by Patrick Offenstadt.

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Max Carter
Max Carter Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, Americas

Lot Essay

In July 1903, Henri-Edmond Cross and his wife embarked upon a short sojourn to Italy, traveling from Paris through Lucerne, Milan and Verona, before reaching the fabled city of Venice, where they settled in to “a beautiful room by the Grand Canal five minutes from Saint Mark’s” (letter to Signac, August 1903; quoted in F. Frank, M. Ferretti Bocquillon, O. Westheider, and M. Philipp, eds., Color and Light: The Neo-Impressionist Henri Edmond Cross, exh. cat., Museum Barberini, Potsdam, 2018, p. 249). During the following five weeks, the artist explored the city extensively, falling under the spell of Venice’s incontestable magic, filling his notebooks with drawings and watercolors of the canals and the shimmering reflections of the light on the lagoon. “Venice is like life itself, symbol of this wonderful existence…” Cross wrote in his journal. “And the admirably varied and lively architecture is like a prolongation of this intense life right to the sky, of this maximum of life given by the canals as well as the lovely water and its infinite reflections… It is a reversal of all our usual ways of seeing” (quoted in ibid., p. 122).
Upon his return to the south of France, Cross began a series of approximately fifteen canvases dedicated to La Serenissima drawing on the sketches and studies from his trip, which were filled with a new sense of light and color. In Rio San Trovaso, Venise Cross focuses on a quiet, sunlit canal, devoid of traffic, the only nod towards human presence being the empty gondola that bobs on the surface of the water along the edge of the canal wall. A notation from the artist’s journal, dated 15 July 1903, records the atmosphere of a similar scene, discovered as he wandered through the city’s waterways: “In a gondola on the small canals—Silence—mystery—light…” (quoted in I. Compin, H. E. Cross, Paris, 1964, p. 212). Bright sunlight dances across the row of buildings that line the edge of the canal, conjuring a myriad of colorful reflections that ripple along the surface of the water.
There is a fluidity and liberalism to Cross’s brushwork during this period of his career, which was a direct result of his attempts to marry the chromatic principles of divisionism with a new expressiveness that reflected the artist’s own personal response to the landscape. As he explained to Signac in 1895, his ultimate aim was to have “technique cede its place to sensation” (quoted in ibid., p. 42). Here, Cross applied the jewel-toned pigments in long, rectangular dashes that shift direction as they describe different elements within the scene, lending the composition an internal dynamism and rhythm, as he attempts to convey a feeling of being submerged in the unique play of light that fills the Venetian landscape. By February 1904, a number of the Venice paintings were complete, and Cross chose to exhibit 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 by 1907, from which it was lent to the momentous Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne in 1912.

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