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Un soir sur la Loire

Un soir sur la Loire
signed and dated 'F. VALLOTTON. 23' (lower right)
oil on canvas
31 7⁄8 x 25 ¾ in. (81.2 x 65.2 cm.)
Painted in 1923
Galerie Druet, Paris (no. 10231), by whom acquired from the artist on 11 October 1923.
Galerie Paul Vallotton, Lausanne (no. 6931), by whom acquired from the above on 7 October 1927.
Henry Vallotton, Saint-Sulpice, by whom acquired from the above in 1940 and until at least 1967.
Private collection, Switzerland, and thence by descent.
Anonymous sale, Galartis SA, Lausanne, 14 June 2014, lot 201.
Acquired at the above sale, and thence by descent to the present owners.
The artist's handlist, LRZ no. 1452.
H. Breuleux, 'Félix Vallotton', in L'illustré, Lausanne, no. 50, December 1935 (illustrated p. 1570).
A. Michot, 'Félix Vallotton à Bordeaux', in La Revue, Lausanne, 18 November 1937.
E. Jaloux, 'Félix Vallotton', in Formes et couleurs, Revue d'art, de littérature et de musique, Lausanne, vol. II, nos. 4 & 5, 1940 (illustrated).
Dr Meig, 'Félix Vallotton in der Kunsthalle Basel, III' in Basler Nachrichten, Basel, 5 March 1942 (titled 'bords de la Loire').
F. Jourdain, Félix Vallotton, Geneva, 1953 (illustrated pl. 81).
V. Gilardoni, 'Félix Vallotton', in Galleria, Supplemento della rivista tecnica della Svizzera italiana, Locarno, no. 1, January 1957 (illustrated p. 8).
R. Barilli, 'Ai margini della surrealtà: Vallotton e Maillol' in Il Simbolismo, Paris, 1967, vol. II, p. 176 (illustrated).
R. Koella, Das Bild der Landschaft im Schaffen von Félix Vallotton, Wesen - Bedeutung - Entwicklung, Zurich, 1969, no. 273, p. 308.
M. Ducrey, Félix Vallotton 1865-1925: L'œuvre peint, vol. I, Le peintre, Lausanne, 2005, no. 1527, p. 305.
M. Ducrey, Félix Vallotton 1865-1925: L'œuvre peint, vol. III, Catalogue raisonné, Seconde partie, 1910-1925, Lausanne, 2005, no. 1527, p. 803 (illustrated).
F. Künzi, La nature dans l'œuvre de Félix Vallotton, exh. cat., Lausanne, 2010, p. 50 (illustrated fig. 27, pp. 51 & 203).
Venice, XIV Esposizione internazionale d'arte della Città di Venezia, April - October 1924, Padiglione della Francia, no. 92, p. 181 (titled 'Sera sulla Loira').
Gand, XLIIIe Exposition triennale, June - August 1925, no. 736, p. 113.
Paris, Galerie Druet, Cinquante tableaux de Félix Vallotton, May 1926, no. 43.
Bordeaux, Terrasse du Jardin Public, Xe Salon des artistes Indépendants Bordelais, October - November 1937, no. 491.
Basel, Kunsthalle, Félix Vallotton 1865-1925, February - March 1942, no. 230, p. 26 (titled 'Bords de la Loire'; dated '1933').
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Félix Vallotton 1865-1925, April - June 1954, no. 70 (titled 'Landschap'); this exhibition later travelled to Brussels, Palais des Beaux-arts, Félix Vallotton, June - July 1954 (titled 'Paysage composé').
Basel, Kunsthalle, Félix Vallotton, January - February 1957, no. 141 (illustrated).
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Félix Vallotton, April - May 1965, no. 257, p. 99 (illustrated, pl. XXI).
Bern, Kunstmuseum, Félix Vallotton, les couchers de soleil, October 2004 - February 2005, no. 84, p. 247 (illustrated p. 215); this exhibition later traveled to Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, March - June 2005.
Further details
This work has been requested for the upcoming exhibition Félix Vallotton. A Retrospective to be held at Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, from October 2025 to February 2026, to mark the centenary of the artist's death.

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Keith Gill
Keith Gill Head of Department

Lot Essay

Set in the Loire River, Félix Vallotton’s Un soir sur la Loire depicts a landscape beyond pure truth. In melding reality with experience, the painting captures the sensation of a place. Un soir sur la Loire was created in 1923 during Vallotton’s trip to Champtoceaux, near Nantes; there he stayed in a pension run by nuns. He had visited the region before, spending time outside of Tours, and he returned for the glorious light and to paint alongside his colleague Paul Deltombe, who lived in the Loire Valley. It was Deltombe who played such an instrumental role in organizing the purchase of Vallotton’s Femme Lisant (Ducrey, vol. III, no. 1433) by what is now the Musée d’Arts de Nantes.
After returning from Champtoceaux, Vallotton wrote to his brother Paul of the many sketches he had made in the region and his hopes to ‘draw about ten paintings from them’ (F. Vallotton to P. Vallotton, 23 July 1923, quoted in M. Ducrey, Félix Vallotton, L'oeuvre peint, Le peintre, Lausanne, 2005, vol. III, p. 801). A month later, on 17 August, he again wrote to his brother of the ‘happy’ canvases he had painted (F. Vallotton to P. Vallotton, 17 August 1923 quoted in ibid.). Un soir sur la Loire was one of the thirteen canvases that Vallotton created from his sketches, and with its decadent colour palette and lyrical title, the painting evokes arcadian joy, June evenings, the first glow of summer. Across the hills Vallotton has painted are rows of dark green grapevines, and the setting sun casts purple shadows across the land beneath. The Loire River extends languidly and capaciously, and in the centre, noted the artist, sat ‘a sandbank and an island of willows’ (ibid., p. 1923). Although far from a naturalistic depiction, Un soir sur la Loire captures an intensity of feeling, a sweetness of sky and blazing light.
Vallotton’s graphic aesthetic developed through his printmaking practice, and though he had largely abandoned the medium by the time Un soir sur la Loire was created, such influence is clearly discernible in the present work. Both the flat, unmodulated colours and the compression of spatial depth recall the woodblock prints he made for magazines including La Revue blanche. Like much of Paris, Vallotton too would have witnessed the craze for Japanese woodcuts, which reached its apex following an exhibition at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1890. The ukiyo-e prints were admired for their vertiginous perspectives, hidden horizons, and closely cropped imagery, inspiring artists to reconceive their perspectival systems. In Un soir sur la Loire, Vallotton incorporated a sense of aloof detachment into his painting, bestowing upon himself, and thus the viewer, a god-like perspective of one who sees all.
If painting once served as a portal onto the world and the principal means of representation, the advent of photography in the mid-19th century meant that painters could strive for more than simply producing truthful depictions of their surroundings. As a result, the landscape became the site for visual revolution. Once considered a lesser genre according to the Academy’s hierarchy, over the course of the 19th century, landscape painting became, argues Richard Thomson, a new ‘vehicle for the artist’s imagination’ and thus a new locus for pictorial innovation (R. Thomson, ‘Pictures of Progress, Nationalism and Tradition’, in Monet to Matisse: Landscape Painting in France 1874-1914, exh. cat., National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1994, pp. 14-15). Long based on an illusion – the representation of the physical world contained within a flat plane – painters began to challenge this heritage and Vallotton was particularly suited to this fight. Indeed, his paysages composés were clear in their intentions: these are invented scenes that play with veracity and representation, reality and experience.

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