Theo van Rysselberghe - Champ d’anthémis, Saint-Clair

Theo van Rysselberghe

Champ d’anthémis, Saint-Clair

Oil on canvas: 28.7(h) x 36(w) in /

73(h) x 91.4(w) cm

"Signed with monogram and dated 1913; inscribed on the reverse: VAN RYSSELBERGHE / CHAMP d’ANTHEMIS / à St. Clair"

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BX 148

 

THEO VAN RYSSELBERGHE

Ghent 1862 – 1926 Saint-Clair

 

Champ d’anthémis, Saint-Clair

 

Signed with monogram and dated 1913;

inscribed on the reverse: VAN RYSSELBERGHE / CHAMP d’ANTHEMIS / à St. Clair Oil on canvas: 28 ¾ x 36 in / 73 x 91.4 cm
In a Louis XIV style composition frame

 

Provenance:

Jean-Pierre Aron, Paris;

by inheritance to a private collector, Paris

 

Exhibited:

Dresden, Kunstsalon Emile Richter, Théo van Rysselberghe, 1913, no.29

The Hague, Kunsthandel Esher Surrey, Théo van Rysselberghe, 20th February-11th March 1920, no.28

Brussels, Galerie Giroux, Théo van Rysselberghe, 4th-16th March 1922, no.70[1]

 

This painting is included in the online Supplément to the Théo van Rysselberghe Catalogue Raisonné (Editions Racine, Belgium 2003; catalogueraisonné.eu) by Ronald Feltkamp, under number 1913.030

 

 

Théo van Rysselberghe was an important conduit between Belgian and French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. As a founder member of the avant-garde Belgian art association Les XX, he encouraged Paul Signac (1863-1935) to join; Georges Seurat (1859-1891) exhibited Un dimanche après-midi à l’Ile de la Grande Jatte, 1884 (Art Institute of Chicago) with them in 1887. Under their influence, van Rysselberghe became a leading exponent of Pointillism.

 

Like many exponents of Pointillism, van Rysselberghe ultimately found the method too restrictive. As Ronald Feltkamp comments, ‘à partir de 1910 environ, van Rysselberghe épure sa peinture. En effet, son art se libère des touches plus épaisses et deviant plus lisse. Les couleurs deviennent plus retenues et nuances, raffinées même, sans perdre pour autant leur force’[2].

 

Van Rysselberghe became enchanted by the light of the Midi, often staying with Signac at Saint-Tropez. In 1911 his architect brother Octave designed for him a house at Saint-Clair, near Le Lavandou in Provence, where he lived for the rest of his life. Champ d’anthémis, Saint-Clair, Var depicts the rolling landscape on the edge of the Côte d’Azur, with its ancient olive trees and mellow, red-roofed farmhouses. In the foreground, a woman is gathering camomile flowers, used in the herbal and perfume industries for which Provence was renowned. The cushion-like green bushes, topped with delicate white flowers, form an important repeated motif in the foreground, described in fluid, oval dabs of paint. Van Rysselberghe articulates the composition in a series of horizontal bands. Beyond the bright foreground of camomile is a darker band of olive trees and lush vegetation in rich blue-green, emerald and yellow-green. In the distance is the radiance of the Mediterranean, under a sky composed of interlinked oval touches strung together in rapid, diagonal chains. The influence of Pointillism is still apparent, but reformed into a dynamic application of paint that expresses the artist’s joy in this radiant, complex landscape.

 

 

 

THEO VAN RYSSELBERGHE

Ghent 1862 – 1926 Saint-Clair

 

Théo van Rysselberghe was born in Ghent in 1862 and studied at the Académie des Beaux Arts in Ghent under Théo Canneel. He continued his education at the Academy in Brussels where his teacher was the Orientalist artist Jean-François Portaels, who was to have considerable influence over the direction of his early career. At the age of eighteen van Rysselberghe made his debut at the Ghent Salon. In 1881 he exhibited for the first time at the Brussels Salon where he won a travelling scholarship to Spain, which marked the beginning of more than twenty years travelling in Europe, the Near East and North Africa. In 1882, at the end of this trip, he visited Tangiers and, fascinated by the atmosphere and colour of the city, he remained there for four months.   On his return to Belgium Rysselberghe exhibited thirty paintings at the Cercle Artistique et Litéraire in Ghent, which were well received and brought van Rysselberghe’s work to the attention of both collectors and critics.

 

In 1883 Théo van Rysselberghe became one of the founder members of the group known as Les XX, sharing similar ideals with the Impressionists in France. Under the patronage of the lawyer and collector Octave Maus, Les XX was formed as a reaction to the strictures of academic art. James Ensor, Fernand Knopff, Félicien Rops, Auguste Rodin and Paul Signac were all members.

Van Rysselberghe became an important ambassador for the group and in 1886 travelled to Paris where he met the Impressionists and invited Renoir and Monet to exhibit in Belgium.

 

Van Rysselberghe’s visits to Paris and association with the Impressionists had a profound effect on his work and he began to produce works that were wholly Impressionist in nature. He was also deeply impressed by the work of the Neo-Impressionists and in particular Georges Seurat, whom he invited to join Les XX in 1887. He completely abandoned Realism and began to employ the theories of Pointillism, whilst still retaining his artistic ties with the Impressionists.   Throughout this period he painted exceptional, highly worked portraits, landscape and seascapes using a palette of gentle pastel shades of blues, pinks and greens and generally employing short, curved brushstrokes rather than the staccato dots seen in the work of Seurat and Signac. He continued to travel and promote Les XX whilst at the same time extending his circle of friends. In 1889 van Rysselberghe invited Vincent van Gogh to participate in that year’s exhibition, where van Gogh sold Vigne rouge à Montmajour (Pushkin Museum, Moscow), the only firmly recorded painting to be sold in the artist’s lifetime.

 

In 1897 van Rysselberghe settled in Paris where he became a regular contributor to the periodical Temps Nouveau. He was also commissioned to produce posters for the Compagnie des Wagons-Lits and as a result travelled across Europe, visiting Greece, Romania and Russia. During this time he met Pablo Picasso, although he was unimpressed by his work and advised Octave Maus not to purchase his paintings. Rysselberghe also worked in the decorative arts, designing furniture and jewellery and in 1902 painting a mural for Victor Horta’s Hôtel Solvay House in Brussels.

 

By 1903 van Rysselberghe had almost entirely abandoned the Pointillist technique; his brushstrokes became larger and more relaxed and, under the influence of the Fauves, he developed a stronger, more powerful palette. A visit to the South of France with Henri-Edmond Cross also had a deep and lasting effect on van Rysselberghe’s oeuvre: he became completely absorbed by the heat and light of the Mediterranean and devoted the rest of his career to painting sunlit landscapes and seascapes of the Côte d’Azur. He was often a guest at Signac’s house in Saint-Tropez. Van Rysselberghe built a house at Saint-Clair, near Le Lavandou, in 1911 where he lived until his death in 1926.

The work of Théo van Rysselberghe is represented in the Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Ghent; the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels; the Musée de Grenoble; the Kröller-Muller Museum, Otterlo; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Gallery, London.

[1] Exhibition information from Ronald Feltkamp.

[2] Théo van Rysselberghe 1862-1926: Catalogue Raisonné, Brussels 2003, p.131.

ImpressionistTheo van Rysselberghe