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Effet de soleil par temps d'orage, Larchant

Effet de soleil par temps d'orage, Larchant
signed and dated 'Picabia 1908' (lower left); signed and dated again and titled 'F. Picabia, Effet de Soleil par Temps d'Orage, Larchant 1908' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
25 5⁄8 x 31 7⁄8 in. (65.1 x 81 cm.)
Painted in 1908
Anon. sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 24 March 1947, lot 183.
Private collection, France (acquired at the above sale, then by descent); sale, Christie's, Paris, 24 March 2017, lot 301.
Acquired at the above sale by Arnold and Anne Ulnick Gumowitz.
Further details
The Comité Picabia has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

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Lot Essay

Painted in 1908, Effet de soleil par temps d'orage, Larchant is an outstanding example of Francis Picabia’s late Impressionist period, which would come to an end in 1909 when he met the group of artists who would go on to form the Cubist group. Resplendent in bright light, the artist captures the atmospheric nuances of sun and fast moving clouds on the landscape before him. Indeed, Picabia’s choice of title—Effet de soleil—emphasizes the importance of light in the scene. Although the sun is not physically depicted in the composition, its presence is felt throughout. Energetic brushstrokes capture the sparkling effects of the sunlight as it falls upon the landscape, infusing the scene with vibrancy and luminosity. The artist explained, “My school is the sky, […] the sun is the great master. He never awards a medal or a Prix de Rome, but he has created Pissarro and Sisley…” (quoted in M.L. Borràs, Picabia, London, 1985, p. 49). Here, Picabia plays on the contrasts of colors and surfaces in order to recreate the distinctive atmosphere and metallic light which occurs immediately before a thunderstorm. The clouds are cotton white with mauve centers, the trees shimmer at the approach of rain which is shown through a multitude of tiny, dense strokes and the water in the foreground ripples in the wind, depicted by long, horizontal brushstrokes.
Picabia had been a student of Albert Charles Wallet (1852-1918) and Jacques Ferdinand Humbert (1842-1934) at the Villa des Arts in Paris, where he kept a studio. However, it was the work of Camille Pissarro and especially Alfred Sisley that influenced him most profoundly. In 1903 and 1904 Picabia would frequently visit Moret, the town where Sisley had spent the last decade of his life, producing paintings that were directly inspired by the Impressionist master. In the picturesque towns of Moret, Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, Martigues, and, as in the present painting, Larchant, Picabia began to experiment with a brighter palette and freer, more expressive brushwork.
In February 1905, Picabia had his first one-man exhibition, consisting of 61 Impressionist works, at the prestigious Galerie Hausmann in Paris. Critics responded positively, with G. Davenay, writing for Le Figaro, stating that, while there were a multitude of different exhibitions none had, “the good fortune to attract the crowds like the exhibition M. Picabia’s landscapes, which is taking on the proportions of an event” (quoted in W.A. Camfield et al., Francis Picabia: Catalogue Raisonné, Brussels, 2014, vol. I, p. 48). The critic Louis Vauxcelles noted that, “there may be suggestions in him of similarities with Pissarro, and especially with Sisley,… but while so many dishonest followers plagiarize Monet, Sisley and Pissarro, and steal their effects, M. Picabia, who already possesses a very individual technique, expresses, year after year, a temperament that is his own, and his alone” (ibid., p. 48).
Picabia’s career flourished during the ensuing years. He participated in many group shows including the traditional Salon d’Artistes Français in 1906 and 1907. He also had exhibitions outside of Paris, including a solo exhibition at the Caspers Kunstsalon in Berlin in 1906 and group shows in Barcelona and London.
Picabia’s Impressionist phase came to an end when he met his future wife Gabrielle Buffet in September 1908. His work quickly changed to Post-Impressionist and Nabis styles, and in 1909 his work is characterized by simplified form and strong color, effectively blending Fauve and Cubist ideas.

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