Louis Marie De Schryver (French, 1862-1942)
Louis Marie De Schryver (French, 1862-1942)

Marchand de fleurs, la rue du Havre, Paris

Louis Marie De Schryver (French, 1862-1942)
Marchand de fleurs, la rue du Havre, Paris
signed and dated 'Louis De Schryver/1893.' (lower right); inscribed, dated and signed '"Marchand de fleurs, Paris – La rue du Havre"/Avril – Juillet 1893/-PARIS-/Louis de Schryver/2me œ. 1893.' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
29 x 36 ½ in. (73.7 x 92.7 cm.)
Private collection, France.
with Richard Green, London, 1985.
Merryl Israel Aron (1913-2015), New Orleans.
Her sale; Heritage Auctions, Texas, 7 December 2016, lot 69012.

Lot Essay

Louis Marie de Schryver was born in Paris on October 12, 1862. The son of a well-respected journalist, he was raised in the privileged upper class of French society. De Schryver’s artistic talent was apparent at a young age, and he exhibited his first entry at the Paris Salon at the age of only thirteen. Early in the artist’s career, as Haussmannisation transformed the city with its wide boulevards and parks, paintings of modern life in Belle Époque Paris became an increasingly popular subject for artists, and de Schryver would become one of the foremost proponents of such subject matter, alongside artists like Jean Béraud. De Schryver's oeuvre captures the grands boulevards, bustling with flower vendors, fashionably dressed women and elegant horse-drawn carriages that characterized life in the City of Light at the fin-de-siècle.
As a member of the upper class himself, de Schryver was no doubt innately familiar with the leisure activities of the fashionable women of Paris that would become his subject matter. Among the many changes to daily life in the waning years of the 19th century was the increasing visibility of women outside the home. Both the chic women strolling the boulevards to show off their modish new dresses and hats and the young women selling flowers and staffing the cafés and boutiques in the fashionable areas of town were taking advantage of new freedoms that would not have been available to them even a generation before. De Schryver had a particular affinity for the women who worked as Paris’s flower vendors, and they are a recurring theme within his oeuvre. Certainly the difficulty of capturing the bountiful, vibrant and varied displays on the flower vendor’s carts was a perfect vehicle through which the artist could demonstrate his prodigious talent as a painter.
The present work depicts a young marchand de fleurs on the rue du Havre, which provides the boundary between the 8e and 9e arrondissements in Paris. Then as now, la rue du Havre was a bustling street. The nearby grands magasins of Printemps and Galeries Lafayette on the Boulevard Hausmann made the street a popular shopping destination for the wealthy and fashionable in turn-of-the-century Paris. The elegantly attired woman walking alongside the carriage at right – her packages tied with a pink ribbon – is almost certainly returning from such an outing. The Gare Saint-Lazare, which dominates the background of the composition, also drew Parisians to the rue du Havre, offering rail transit to the western suburbs of Paris and to Normandy. The Gare Saint-Lazare was a popular subject for the Impressionist painters in the second half of the 19th century as well, as many of them lived quite nearby. Most famously, Claude Monet undertook a series of works painted in the station, captivated by the smoke and steam of the departing and arriving trains.
In the foreground, two elegantly-clad ladies are purchasing bouquets from a young woman whose cart overflows with roses, peonies, lilies, mimosas, hydrangeas and other flowers. Their elaborate hats, decorated with flowers and expensive ostrich feathers, echo the profusion of flowers overflowing from the marchand’s cart. The dresses worn by these two figures represent the height of contemporary fashion in 1893, the year in which the present work was painted. The tightly fitted waists, minimal bustle, and full A-line skirts were all the rage in women’s fashion in Paris at the fin-de-siècle, but it is the women’s voluminous gigot sleeves – which experienced a brief resurgence in popularity beginning in 1893 – which particularly illustrate the extent to which de Schryver was capturing the most au courant fashion in his work. The bold yellow in the dress of the figure on the left – which she has stylishly coordinated with her parasol – is also particularly of the moment. In fact, the final decade of the 19th century has come to be known as the ‘Yellow Nineties,’ both because of the color’s association with avant-garde literature of the period, and because of its increasing popularity in fashion and art during this time as well. For many artists, writers and thinkers of the era, the color yellow came to be seen of as the symbol of the decade and its rejection of more repressed Victorian values.
De Schryver's views of Paris became popular with collectors not just because of the artist’s technical skill as a painter but also because of the spontaneity with which he imbued his scenes. There is perhaps no better example of this spontaneity in the present work than the charming detail at left of the officer of the Garde républicaine digging into his pocket to find some change with which to purchase a bouquet. It can also be found in the other wonderfully rendered details of the background – the young child making a purchase from the cart in front of the bank, the man leaning on the railing of the bank’s balcony while he reads the paper, and even the figure peering out of the window of an upper floor of the train station at the crowd on the street below. It is these details, drawn from the artist’s own day-to-day experiences strolling on the boulevards of Paris, which give de Schryver’s paintings a captivating veracity and which rank him among the Belle Époque’s most astute chroniclers. Marchand de fleurs, la Rue du Havre, Paris is an exceptional example of de Schryver’s best work and shows the artist working at the height of his powers.
(fig. 1) Flower sellers, Paris, 1898.

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