Quimper - Locmaria sous la neige
Oil on canvas: 13(h) x 16(w) in /
33(h) x 40.6(w) cm
Signed lower left: HMoret / 09
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Cherbourg 1856 – 1913 Paris
Quimper – Locmaria sous la neige
Signed lower left: HMoret / 09
Oil on canvas: 13 x 16 in / 33 x 40.6 cm
Frame size: 21 x 24 in / 53.3 x 61 cm
from whom acquired by Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris on 24th May 1909, inv. no.6453 and Durand-Ruel Archive photograph;
by whom sold to Georges Martin, 67 Rue Caumartin, Paris, on 21st December 1938
Jack Cardiff (1914-2009), Essex, UK;
Sotheby’s London, 4th July 1968, lot 156;
Galeria Acquavella, Caracas, Venezuela
Miguel A Di Gregorio, Caracas;
by whom sold at Christie’s New York, 8th October 1987, lot 11
Thierry, Martin & Lannon, Brest, 13th December 1987, lot 147;
private collection, France
Hamburg, Galerie Commeter, 1st October 1930-10th March 1931
Caracas, Galeria Acquavella, Pintura Francesa, October 1968, no.13
To be included in the catalogue raisonné of the work of Henry Moret being prepared by Jean-Yves Rolland
Henry Moret’s earlier work was influenced by Gauguin, whom he met in Pont-Aven in 1888. Later he developed his own personal, powerful style which fused elements of Gauguin’s Syntheticism – flat areas of colour, bold contrasts, the power of colour to evoke emotion – with the more naturalistic approach to space and light of the Impressionists. Emile Bernard wrote of Moret: ‘He was a very gentle, likeable character; a peaceable, sincere revolutionary. I lost sight of him when I left Pont-Aven….He had turned away from our developments in synthesis and gone over to the plein air school of Monet….So far from weakening his talent he had strengthened it, rejecting theories, keeping in touch with life itself, with nature’.
Of all the members of the Pont-Aven School, Moret was the most faithful to the area. He had first visited there in the 1880s and in 1896 settled permanently in the small fishing village of Doëlan, between Pont-Aven and Lorient. Thereafter he divided his time between Brittany and Paris, where a contract with Durand-Ruel in 1895 relieved him of financial worries. Moret was enraptured by the rugged, breezy coast of Brittany, with its sparkling and fleeting light. ‘An indefatigable fisherman and huntsman, a real seadog, a first-rate shot’, Moret got on well with Brittany’s dignified, hardy inhabitants.
This painting is comparatively unusual in Moret’s oeuvre in being a town view and a snow scene. He made a small group of Quimper snow scenes in 1909 (now in private collections), characteristically focussing on the town’s river, L’Odet, and its shipping. Locmaria is one of the oldest parts of Quimper, capital of the Finistère Département. It grew up around the Romanesque Abbey of Nôtre-Dame; Locmaria means, in Breton, the ‘place of Mary’.
Moret depicts the banks of L’Odet in deep snow, with the church of Nôtre-Dame a soft, lilac silhouette on the skyline. Employing a rich impasto and a vibrant variety of brushstrokes, Moret brings out all the colours of the winter day, with the glowing ice blue-violet-cream cloudscape perfectly conveying the pulsating light and reflections of a snowy landscape. In contrast with the cool colours, the buttery-yellow houses and tufts of vegetation in the foreground provide touches of warmth. Moret works in the tradition of Impressionism, but brings to it his own simplicity and strength.
Cherbourg 1856 – 1913 Paris
Henry Moret was born in Cherbourg, Normandy, the son of a garrison officer. A gentle, thoughtful man and an indefatigable worker, Henry Moret discovered Brittany during his military service in 1875. Having trained at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and in the studios of Gérôme and Laurens in Paris, Moret went to Brittany in 1881, staying at Le Pouldu near Pont Aven. For the rest of his life he divided his time between Paris and Brittany, painting the landscape and rugged coastline. In 1888, while living in Pont Aven, he met Gauguin and the circle of painters who gathered around him in L’Auberge Gloanec. Moret was influenced by Gauguin’s philosophy of Syntheticism, summarized in 1890 by Maurice Denis: ‘It is well to remember that a picture before being a battle horse, a nude woman, or some anecdote, is essentially a flat surface covered with colours assembled in a certain order’. Moret’s Breton landscapes of the early 1890s have often been mistaken for those of Gauguin. In his later work Moret re-explored the more naturalistic approach of the Impressionists, using a palette dominated by blues, greens and pinks.
In 1893 Moret fell in love with Célina Chatenet, a dressmaker who became his wife in 1910. She helped to support him financially until a contract with Durand-Ruel in 1895 freed Moret from money worries. He exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d’Automne. In 1900 and 1902 Durand-Ruel showed his work in New York, along with that of Maufra and Loiseau. Following Moret’s death in 1913, Durand-Ruel held a number of posthumous exhibitions and in one catalogue Moret was described as having the ability ‘to express the Breton landscape exactly… he occupies a unique place in the evolution of art at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, as he has been able to fuse together two fundamentally opposing styles: the Syntheticism of Pont Aven and Impressionism’.
The work of Henry Moret is represented in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris; the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Quimper; Southampton City Art Gallery; the National Museums and Galleries of Wales, Cardiff; the Hermitage, St Petersburg; the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Indianapolis Museum of Art.
 Quoted in Wladyslawa Jaworska, Gauguin and the Pont-Aven School, London 1972, pp.183-4.
 Moret’s landlord Monsieur Tonnerre, quoted in Judy Le Paul, Gauguin and the Impressionists at Pont-Aven, New York 1983, p.208.