HENRI LE SIDANER (1862-1939)
HENRI LE SIDANER (1862-1939)
HENRI LE SIDANER (1862-1939)
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HENRI LE SIDANER (1862-1939)

Le bassin du refuge

HENRI LE SIDANER (1862-1939)
Le bassin du refuge
signed 'Le Sidaner' (lower right)
oil on canvas
28 ¾ x 36 ¼ in. (73 x 92 cm.)
Painted in Villefranche-sur-Mer in 1924
J.C. collection.
Galerie Georges Petit, Paris.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, London, 20 March 1996, lot 34.
Richard Green Fine Paintings, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owners.
Y. Farinaux-le Sidaner, Le Sidaner: L'oeuvre peint et gravé, Paris, 1989, p. 202, no. 527 (illustrated).
Brussels, Galerie du Studio, Exposition Henri Martin-Henri Le Sidaner, April 1924, no. 24.
Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Exposition Le Sidaner, February 1925, no. 33.

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Lot Essay

With an artistic mastery of color and the ruminative desire to capture an environment’s aura, Henri Le Sidaner’s Le bassin du refuge exemplifies a visually compelling introspection that positions the artist at the crossroads of Symbolism and Impressionism. This dual aspect of his art was touched on by Camille Mauclair who wrote: "born out of Impressionism, [Le Sidaner] is as much the [Symbolist] son of Verlaine as of the snow scenes of Monet" (C. Mauclair, Henri Le Sidaner, Paris, 1928, p. 12).
Born in Port Louis, Mauritius, Le Sidaner’s appreciation of water seeped into the artist’s practice from the outset, manifesting as a nostalgic and deeply observed motif in his oeuvre. This personal connection is meticulously materialized in the current work which utilizes the water’s dreamy reflections to recreate the artist’s memories of a small seaside harbor unspoiled by the sprawl of modern industrialization which had swept across Europe.
Rather than incorporating an expansive sky, the composition’s upper area is adorned with idyllic clusters of trees and two charming buildings rendered in spectra of cider, pear and emerald. Behind the building on the left’s closed doors, an artificial marigold light beam suggests the possibility of a human presence in a scene devoid of figural representation. These structural intricacies create a captivating and intimate portrayal of a mystical town, seemingly transient as it is reflected on a mosaic-colored body of water reminiscent of Monet's iconic Water Lilies.
The Impressionist-esque fragmented and “flaky” brushworks capture the artist’s careful manipulations of colored light that seamlessly hops across the rippled waters under the hazy dusk of day’s end. Yet, distinct from the artist’s Impressionist peers like Monet, Le Sidaner quickly sketched the scenes he observed as he wandered through the maritime town, later crafting the compositions in his studio from his imagination. By freeing his paintbrush from reality, Le Sidaner injects the artwork with a profound stillness and dreamy contemplation. Enhancing this mystical ambiance is the time of day depicted, evocatively coined by Mauclair as "Le Sidaner's time." This signature hour, characterized by the indistinct period when day is about to fade away, allows Le Sidaner to evoke a Symbolist sense of dream-like nostalgia and sentimental realism, as colorful forms gently dissolve into the painting's enchanting allure.
Accordingly, Karin Sagner notes, through expanding “Impressionism's manner of painting light to include a magical-poetic aspect, while at the same time remaining close to Symbolism,” Le Sidaner’s paintings “denote a "secret" affinity between visible and spiritual reality” (Henri Le Sidaner: A magical Impressionist, Munich, 2009, p. 34). It comes at no surprise then that Jean-David Jumeau-Lafond referred to the artist as a “painter of souls.” Beneath this masterful painting’s surface, “the intimate secret of a truth drowned in the waters of its canals, fossilized time, recollections of a Golden Age, a misty atmosphere that haloed things with a veil of mystery, the splitting as if in a mirror image of the urban scene into watery reflections of it, the lurking danger of Rimbaud's Ophelia…” continues to brew within each viewers’ beguiled trance (Henri Le Sidaner: A Magical Impressionist, Munich, 2009, p. 64).

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