Albert Marquet

Le port des Sables-d'Olonne

Oil on canvas: 23.9(h) x 29(w) in /

60.6(h) x 73.7(w) cm

Signed lower right: Marquet

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BV 160



Bordeaux 1875 – 1947 Paris


Le port des Sables-d’Olonne


Signed lower right: Marquet

Oil on canvas: 23 7/8 x 29 in / 60.6 x 73.7 cm

Frame size: 32 x 37 in / 81.3 x 94 cm


Painted in 1921



Galerie Duret, Paris, no.9930

Crane Kalman Gallery, London;

GR Kennerley, London, by whom acquired from the above in 1959

Mrs Vernon Sangster;

her estate sale, Christie’s London, 26th June 1996, lot 166;

Richard Green Gallery, London, 1996;

private collection, UK



Original Letter of Attestation of Inclusion in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the work of Albert Marquet being prepared by the Wildenstein Institute, dated 6th May 1996, ref. no.96.05.06/4686/1309


This work will be included in the forthcoming Albert Marquet Digital Catalogue Raisonné, currently being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc.



Albert Marquet was born in the great port city of Bordeaux and lived on the banks of the Seine most of his life, becoming celebrated for his sensitive observation of Paris and its river. Fascinated by water, ports and coastline, he was an inveterate traveller, visiting England, the USSR and North Africa, among other places, as well as exploring his native France.


In the summer of 1921 Marquet stayed at Les Sables d’Olonne in the Vendée, on the Atlantic coast of France, a fashionable bathing place since the late nineteenth century. He took rooms in a pension at 6 Quai du Maréchal Joffre, near the Casino and with a splendid view of the golden sands that were described as the ‘Plus belle plage d’Europe’. Delighted with with its ‘aspect espagnol’, its light ‘puissante et caressante, vibrante et fluide’[1], Marquet made a number of views of the old port.


Le port des Sables-d’Olonne demonstrates the ‘classicism intuitif’[2] of Marquet’s compositions, with the masts and hulls of the fishing boats forming a triangular motif in which the strong horizontals are balanced by the rhythmic forest of masts. He has a wonderful, unique approach to colour, never alighting on the most obvious hues but here juxtaposing the salmon-pink, primrose and buttercup yellow of the sunlit sails and masts with vibrant emerald green. The turquoise and eau-de-nil of the water, fractured by brilliant reflections, lead the eye towards a soft, blue-green sky.


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’[3].













Bordeaux 1875 – 1947 Paris



Albert Marquet was born in Bordeaux in 1875, the son of a railway employee. He went to Paris to study at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs at the age of fifteen. Six years later he joined the studio of Gustave Moreau, where he met and forged lasting friendships with Camoin, Rouault, Manguin and Matisse. During this period Marquet began to use the vibrant colours and bold brushwork that is characteristic of the Fauves with whom he was closely associated. He exhibited at Berthe Weill and the Galerie Druet, Paris from 1902 and from 1903 at the Salon d’Automne.


After 1907 Marquet’s interest in Japonisme resulted in more sober works. He travelled extensively, frequently leaving his apartment on the banks of the Seine to visit England, Germany, Italy, the USSR, Scandinavia and North Africa, where he spent the years of the Second World War. He met his wife Marcelle Martinet, whom he married in 1923, on his first stay in Algiers in 1920.


The most profound influence on his work is that of the Impressionists, most notably Paul Cézanne. Like the Impressionists his favourite subjects were port scenes, beaches, quaysides, river views and coastal villages; he was particularly fascinated by the effect of light on water.


André Rouveyre, a fellow student in Gustave Moreau’s atelier, wrote: ‘Marquet reigns over the kingdom of light. The light that shines on the things of this world, of course, but also that which belongs to his pictures alone: a strangely regal quality that comes from his sensitivity and wisdom. Skies, hills, houses, streets all bathe in his subtle but intense lights’.


[1] Charles Fegdal, quoted in Paris, Musée National de la Marine, Albert Marquet: itineraries maritimes, 2008, exh. cat. by Véronique Alemany et. al., p.86.

[2] Marc Sandoz, quoted in Musée National de la Marine, Albert Marquet, op. cit., p.86.

[3] Quoted in London, Wildenstein, Albert Marquet, exh. cat., 1985, p.6.


ImpressionistAlbert Marquet