Like many of his Spanish contemporaries, Catalan painter Eliseo Meifrén y Roig was lured to Paris in the fin de siècle to experience the city's vibrant artistic community. There he discovered the work of the Impressionists and Symbolists which would have a great influence on his own stylistic development. Throughout his life, Meifrén played with the principles of en plein air painting, whether he was looking to capture the streets of Paris or the canals of Venice. While his extensive travels resulted in a great number of well-received works, Meifrén's best-known images are those inspired by his native Catalonia. The region's distinctive rocky coast, open sea and small fishing towns appear in many of his paintings filtered through a dreamy lens of swirling brushstrokes and striking modulations of color.
The present lot depicts the small, but art historically significant Catalonian town of Cadaqués. During the early 20th century, Cadaqués was a center of avant-garde activity with Dalí, Duchamp, Picasso, Miró and many other artists, writers and intellectuals all gathering there to generate new ideas for their work. Meifrén undoubtedly benefitted from this dynamic environment, just as he had in Paris, as his paintings reveal the artist experimenting with various modes of expression. Indeed, Noche en Cadaqués shares with Dalí's almost fauvist Back View of Cadaqués (fig. 1) a similar perspective looking towards a distinctive hill perched above the sea. Yet, with its undulating landscape and roiling night sky, rendered in subtle gradations of deep blues and greens, Noche en Cadaqués stylistically suggests a greater affinity with the work of Van Gogh and in particular with his iconic Starry Night (fig. 2). While Meifrén studied in France at the same time that Van Gogh was working there, he would not have discovered the Dutch artist, who subsisted in relative obscurity, until years after his premature death. Meifrén's evocative portrayal of Cadaqués is thus not only a Catalan artist's tribute to his native land but also an homage to one of art history's most tragic heroes.
We are grateful to Elvira Sanchez Gimeno for confirming the authenticity of this painting on the basis of a photograph.