Henri-Edmond Cross, ‘La Plaine de Bormes’, 1907-1908, Richard Green Gallery

La Plaine des Bormes is a joyous celebration of Henri-Edmond Cross’s love affair with the South of France, where he had lived since 1891 in Saint-Clair near Saint-Tropez. The Impressionists’ preoccupation with colour and light was pushed in new, radical directions by artists such as Theo van Rysselberghe, Paul Signac, George Seurat and Cross himself. Cross’s Neo-Impressionist style, like Seurat’s Divisionism, was influenced by the colour theories of the French chemist Eugène Michel Chevreul. From the mid-1890s Cross modified his Divisionist, dotted touch to paint in larger, oval patches of colour, full of energy.

Frame size: 38 1/4 x 48 3/4 in / 97 x 116 cm

Cross painted in the village of Bormes, near Saint-Clair, in the summer of 1907, returning in the November of that year, when La Plaine des Bormes was made. He enthused about Bormes to Maximilien Luce: ‘C’est plein de choses intéressantes: une admirable plaine, parsemée de maisonettes, de groupes d’arbres, jusqu’aux collines et à la mer. Le matin, c’est d’une teinte d’une finesse étonnante et que je voudrais le point de départ d’harmonies nouvelles’.

In La Plaine des Bormes Cross takes up a viewpoint in the hills in the shade of an olive tree, looking across the sun-drenched flatness to the sea and sky, which are so radiant that they blend into a haze of pink-lilac dots. The shadowed, gnarled olives are described in whorls of blue, purple and green, contrasting with the hot orange, pink and yellow hues of the landscape beyond. Staccato, juxtaposed touches of colour perfectly evoke the pulsating light of the Midi. Cross makes play of the decorative aspects of the landscape: the swirling shapes of the olive trees and the two goats perched on the ridge are placed with the precision of a Japanese print.

Frame size: 38 1/4 x 45 3/4 in / 97 x 116 cm

Le Havre, Hôtel de Ville du Havre, Cercle de l’Art modern, 3ème exposition, 1908, no. 12
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, H.E. Cross, 1910, no. 25
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, La Faune, 1910, no. 44
Douai, Hôtel de Ville, Société des Amis des Arts, 1911, no. 51
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, H.E. Cross, 1913, no. 36
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Le Paysage du Midi, 1914, no. 10
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Französische Kunst des XIX und XX Jahrhunderts, 1917, no. 273
Barcelona, Galerias Dalmau, Exposicio d’Art Frances d’Avantguarda, 1920, no. 4

Jules Leroux, ‘Aux Amis des Arts, H.E. Cross’, La View Douaisienne, 22nd July 1911
Lucie Cousturier, H.E. Cross, Paris 1932, pl. 9
Isabelle Compin, H.E. Cross, Paris 1964, p. 305, no. 204, illus.

To be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Henri-Edmond Cross being prepared by Patrick Offenstadt under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute

Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris
Sale, Christie’s New York, 21st March 1983, lot 15
Private collection, Europe

About Henri-Edmond Cross

French, 1856-1910, Douai, France, based in Var, France