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Eucalyptus à Cavalière

Eucalyptus à Cavalière
signed with monogram and dated '1905' (lower left)
oil on canvas
39 5⁄8 x 32 1⁄8 in. (100.7 x 81.6 cm.)
Painted in 1905
Galerie E. Druet, Paris (until at least 1927).
Alice Sèthe and Paul Du Bois, Brussels (possibly acquired from the above).
Willy Du Bois, Brussels (by descent from the above, 1944).
Annette Du Bois, Paris (by descent from the above); sale, Hôtel Rameau, Versailles, 7 June 1967, lot 57.
(probably) Acquired at the above sale by the family of the present owners.
P. Fierens, Théo Van Rysselberghe, Brussels, 1937, no. 26 (illustrated; titled Paysage du Midi).
F. Maret, Les peintres luministes, Brussels, 1944, no. XIII (illustrated; titled Les Eucalyptus).
F. Maret, Théo Van Rysselberghe, Antwerp, 1948 (illustrated, pl. 17).
J. Ansieau, Georges Lacombe: Catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1998, p. 88 (illustrated in color).
R. Feltkamp, Théo Van Rysselberghe: Catalogue raisonné, Brussels, 2003, p. 350, no. 1905-004 (illustrated; with incorrect provenance).
Paris, Galerie E. Druet, Théo Van Rysselberghe, November-December 1905, no. 7 (titled Cavalière (Provence). Pins et Eucalyptus).
Rotterdamsche Kunstkring, Théo Van Rysselberghe, October-November 1909, no. 22.
Utrecht, Vereeniging voor de Kunst, Théo Van Rysselberghe, December 1909-January 1910, no. 10.
Brussels, Galerie Giroux, Théo Van Rysselberghe, November-December 1927, p. 22, no. 41 (illustrated, p. 23).
Ghent, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rétrospective Théo Van Rysselberghe, July-September 1962, p. 47, no. 92.
Post lot text
We thank Olivier Bertrand for providing additional information on this painting, which will be included in his Théo Van Rysselberghe catalogue raisonné.

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Lot Essay

Van Rysselberghe’s first encountered Pointillism in 1886, when he traveled from Brussels to Paris—his first trip to the French capital, at the age of 23—for the eighth and final Impressionist group show. Georges Seurat’s divisionist manifesto La Grande Jatte was the succès de scandale of the exhibition. Van Rysselberghe and his traveling companion, the poet Emile Verhaeren, met with Seurat and arranged for him to exhibit the canvas the next year in Brussels with the avant-garde group Les XX, the principal vehicle for the dissemination of new artistic ideas in Belgium, which Van Rysselberghe had been instrumental in founding. Van Rysselberghe began painting in a divisionist manner in 1888 and soon became one of the movement’s foremost apostles. “Like you, I am more convinced than ever of the excellence of our technique,” he wrote to Signac in that year. “I find it genuinely voluptuous, it’s so logical and good” (quoted in Théo van Rysselberghe, exh. cat., Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, 2006, p. 135).
Van Rysselberghe had become close with two painters of the divisionist movement, Signac and Henri-Edmond Cross. In 1896 he spent two months at Signac's home in Saint-Tropez, and the two artists traveled to the Netherlands together later that year. He often worked in Signac's studio in Paris. In 1898, however, they had a difference of opinion over the development of their art—Van Rysselberghe wanted to concentrate more on nature and move away from what he began to see as a confining technique. The relationship became strained as Van Rysselberghe abandoned the strict division of colors and lengthened his brushstrokes once again.
The artist's relationship with Cross never faltered. Even after his attempts to distance himself from the divisionist movement, he would still spend much time with Cross. From 1904 onward, he would often stay at Cross' home in Saint-Clair, and they would explore the Côte d'Azur together. Van Rysselberghe was fascinated by the brilliant light of the Mediterranean coast and the wild countryside around Saint-Clair. The present luminous canvas depicts the coastline punctuated by eucalyptus trees at Cavalière, a small village to the east of Saint-Clair. He explained in a letter to a friend, “a few kilometers from where Cross lives, there is a small chalet at the edge of the water, near to or within a beautiful park: a true mine of motifs, where I will find plenty of sources to create decorative compositions” (quoted in R. Feltkamp, op. cit., p. 185).
With its nuanced play of color and vibrant brushwork, Eucalyptus à Cavalière demonstrates the growing individuality of Van Rysselberghe’s pointillist technique during the first years of the 20th century, as he took a decisive step away from the precise, uniform, round brush-marks advocated by the movement’s founder, Seurat. In this glowing composition, Van Rysselberghe fills the canvas with dots of varying shape and size, introducing a vibrant sense of variety to the surface of the painting.

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