HENRI LE SIDANER (1862-1939)
HENRI LE SIDANER (1862-1939)
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EUROPEAN COLLECTION
HENRI LE SIDANER (1862-1939)

Le Grand Canal, Venise

HENRI LE SIDANER (1862-1939)
Le Grand Canal, Venise
signed 'Le Sidaner' (lower left)
oil on canvas
26 x 32 1/8 in. (66 x 81.5 cm.)
Painted in 1914
Galeries Georges Petit, Paris, by whom acquired from the artist in October 1914.
Private collection, United Kingdom, by who acquired circa 1960, and thence by descent; sale, Christie's, London, 26 June 2001, lot 149.
Acquired at the above sale by the family of the present owner, and thence by descent.
Y. Farinaux-Le Sidaner, Henri Le Sidaner, Paysages intimes, Saint-Rémy-en-l'Eau, 2013 (illustrated).
Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, International Exhibition - Salle Le Sidaner, March 1921, no. 185 (titled 'Old Palaces, Venice').
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Further details
Yann Farinaux-Le Sidaner will include this work in the forthcoming supplement to his Le Sidaner catalogue raisonné.

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Lot Essay

Out of the countless 19th century artists enamoured with Venice, Henri Le Sidaner is undoubtedly one of the ones most apt to capture its unique magic at night-time. Depicting vast Venetian palazzi in the same intimiste vein he had dedicated to the rustic houses of Gerberoy, the lyricism of his imagery finds its most befitting and valuable subject in Venice. The exquisite melancholia of this scene, rendered through drastic shifts of light and bold brushstrokes, is a testament to this.

In a quiet, moonlit canal, the sinuous figure of a gondola shifts silently through the waves, illuminated by the few orange lights flickering from the windows of the palaces. Rays of moonlight enter from the far right, encompassing the entire scene, their reflections irradiating on the water and in the houses surrounding the gondola. The atmosphere is one of silent and evocative wonder.

By 1914, when this picture was painted, the artist had grown familiar with the city: his first visit took place in 1892, when he was 30 years old, and he returned there often, with two more trips in 1905 and 1906. The artist’s fascination with the city evolved during his visits, reflecting the constant transformations of his oeuvre - on his first visit in the early 1890s, the artist was particularly fascinated with the works of the Trecento and Quattrocento that would become sources of inspiration for his early Symbolist production. It comes as no surprise, given the centrality of the Venetian motif in his oeuvre, that the last recorded work by the artist found in his studio after his death was a picture of Venice, executed from memory.

It was specifically in 1914, however, that the Venice Biennale honoured the artist with a room dedicated specifically to his recent works – a remarkable sign of esteem that would further solidify his already consolidated success. The sense of artistic maturity intrinsic to this phase of his oeuvre is well represented here. The artist’s explorations on the interplay of dark pigments in exquisite nocturne palettes and more importantly his attentiveness to the rendering of subtle changes of light are shown at their finest.

In a talk he gave during a conference in Nantes in 1935, eleven years after the completion of this picture and only four years before his death, the artist described an imaginary trip to the floating city, detailing the same preoccupations over the effects of light that he had rendered ten years prior with his brush: 'Another surprise may well await us when we set foot in Venice having crossed the Grand Canal by gondola and in late afternoon end up at Saint Mark's, the Piazetta and the Ducal Palace, the fleshy colour of which is gilded by the last rays of the sun. You probably remember the description of the fiery spectacle in The Flame by D'Annunzio in which the impression is heightened (…) reflected in the dying accents of the flames flung by the sun on the fine buildings, and duplicated in the shifting reflections of the water.’ (H. Le Sidaner, quoted in Y. Farinaux-Le Sidaner, Le Sidaner: l'œuvre peint et gravé, Paris, 1989, p. 109).

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