Albert Marquet was fascinated by the rivers of France. He often chose a high viewpoint, as in this painting, to fill the centre of his canvas with pulsating light reflected off water. In the summer of 1931, Marquet and his wife Marcelle rented a house in the picturesque village of Triel on the Seine, twenty miles north-west of Paris on the edge of the Vexin forest. He made several views of the majestic curve of the river, including The Seine at Triel, 1931 (Art Institute of Chicago).
Marquet was a highly original colourist, using subtle combinations of hues, here fresh yellow-greens and pale, shimmering grey offset by touches of tan and ochre. The painting’s composition is balanced by the different types of craft on the Seine which lead the eye into the landscape. In the foreground are pleasure craft and beyond them a pristine white sailing boat. On the far side of the calm, wide river are a barge and a steam tug, a reminder that the Seine was an important economic artery as well as a delightful setting for city dwellers’ holidays.
Marquet’s friend, the writer and politician Marcel Sembat, commented: ‘No artist has the same relationship with light as Marquet. It is if he owned it. He possesses the secret of a pure and intense light which fills all the sky with its uniform and colourless glow….luminous as daylight itself and so transparent that a painting by Marquet gives the impression of a large window being opened onto the outside’.
This painting comes from the fine Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collection of the banker and philanthropist John C Whitehead (1922-2015). He was Chairman of Goldman Sachs and served as Deputy Secretary of State in the Reagan administration.
1 Quoted in Marquet, exh. cat., Le Plessis 1985, p.6.
F Jourdain, Marquet, Paris 1959, p.156, illus.
To be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the work of Albert Marquet being prepared by Jean-Claude Martinet and Guy Wildenstein under the sponsorship of the Fondation Wildenstein
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Paris
Private collection, Switzerland;
Christie's London, 25th June 1984, lot 8 (bt. Peter Findlay Gallery);
Peter Findlay Gallery, New York
Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 19th July 1990, lot 24
Private collection, Paris;
Christie's London, 2nd December 1996, lot 32
Christie's, London, 7th December 1999, lot 175;
where acquired by Achim Moeller Fine Art on behalf of John C Whitehead (1922-2015)
About Albert Marquet
“Marquet combined a sure grasp of form, a sensitive and skillful exploitation of dramatic effects of light, and a feeling for color that managed to be sober and rich at the same time,” Howard Devree wrote of Albert Marquet in a 1953 New York Times article. Known primarily as a landscapist who painted misty scenes of Paris and the lands he visited, Marquet often incorporated the sea or rivers, showcasing his adept rendering of the silvery quality of light reflecting on water (as in Port de Marseille, 1924). A friend of Henri Matisse, Marquet is often associated with the Fauves, yet some critics see more of an overlap with Édouard Manet and the Impressionists. As his style developed, pure colors gave way to a reserved linear style evoking the classical composure of Jean-Baptiste-Camile Corot, whom he admired.
French, 1875-1947, Bordeaux, France, based in Paris, France