Henri Lebasque

Fleurs dans un vase

Oil on canvas: 25.6(h) x 21.6(w) in /

65.1(h) x 54.9(w) cm

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BY 114

 

HENRI LEBASQUE

Champigné 1865 – 1937 Le Cannet

 

Fleurs dans un vase

Signed lower right: Lebasque

Oil on canvas: 25 ⅝ x 21 ⅝ in /65.1 x 54.9 cm

Frame size: 32 ½ x 28 ¼ in / 82.6 x 71.8 cm

 

Painted in the 1920s

Provenance:

Galerie Aittouarès, Paris Madame Falcone, Paris Sotheby’s London, 29th June 1988, lot 184; where acquired by a private collector, Europe

 

Literature:

D Bazetoux, Henri Lebasque, Catalogue raisonné, vol. I, Neuilly-sur-Marne 2008, no.826, p.224, illus.

 

Christine Lenoir and Maria de la Ville Fromoit have confirmed the authenticity of this work.

 

 

Henri Lebasque was described in his lifetime as ‘the painter of the good life’. At the dawn of the twentieth century he was associated with the Fauves; Matisse and Bonnard remained lifelong friends. Like them, his quest was the exploration of light. For Lebasque, it might be found in a sunny garden, in the dappled green shade of trees, in a comfortable bourgeois room with tall windows and a bunch of flowers on the sill. His wife and two daughters are often present in these compositions: the girls appearing first as exuberant children and later as elegant young women.

 

Lebasque took much pleasure in painting flowers, concentrating on still life on days when he was unable to paint landscapes en plein air. He painted still lifes throughout his career, producing about 130 examples ([1]). Fleurs dans un vase was probably painted in the 1920s, by which time Lebasque had long moved away from the high colour key and flat areas of pigment of his Fauvist associations. He uses richly allusive brushwork to suggest the shapes and personality of the flowers, while never losing sight of a quivering sense of life. The bouquet is artlessly arranged in a simple grey vase, with shadows of lilac and blue playing on its glazed surface. The blooms are informal, cottage-garden flowers – daisies, poppies, sweet William, roses. A vortex of energy is provided by the curved stalks of the white daisies which spiral towards the denser, more strongly coloured centre. Although the vase is set almost within the centre of the composition, the offset, truncated table top underlines the sense of informality. Above all, Lebasque fills the painting with an extremely subtle radiance, choosing a light background and letting pale colours drift into one another like a mist.

 

HENRI LEBASQUE

Champigné 1865 – 1937 Le Cannet

 

 

Hailed by critics and artists alike as ‘the painter of the good life’, Henri Lebasque was acclaimed for his individuality, his delicate sense of light and his personal charm. Such were the qualities that prompted Beaunier to write: ‘Lebasque merits the renown of a lovely original artist, who knows his calling, uses it well, and never abuses it’ (Gazette des Beaux Arts, May 1908, p.366).

 

Born in Champigné in the Loire valley, the son of a wood merchant, Lebasque went to Paris in 1885 and studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He then entered the atelier of the portraitist Léon Bonnat and began to exhibit at the annual art society exhibitions and the Paris Salons. He later assisted Ferdinand Humbert with the decorative murals of the Panthéon.

 

Lebasque’s vision was coloured by his contact with younger painters, especially Vuillard and Bonnard, founders of the Nabis group and Intimists who favoured the calm and quietude of domestic subject matter. From his acquaintance with Seurat and Signac, Lebasque learnt the significance of a colour theory which stressed the use of complementary colours in shading.

 

Lebasque was a founding member of the Salon d’Automne in 1903 with his friend Matisse. Two years later a group of artists exhibited there who included Rouault, Derain, Vuillard, Manguin and Matisse. They were dubbed ‘Les Fauves’ for their stylistic ‘savagery’. The critic Vauxcelles noted that Lebasque’s talent arrived ‘in the midst of the roaring of the unchained beasts’. Like Les Fauves, Lebasque adopted a similar flattening of the picture plane, but blended with a sophisticated, subtle fluidity. He painted domestic scenes with his family as models, still lifes, landscapes, portraits and nudes.

 

From 1900 to 1906 Lebasque lived at partly at Lagny on the Marne, but also visited Paris, London and Venice. He was enchanted by the light of the Midi on a trip to St Tropez in 1906 and spent many summers in the south of France. During the First World War, Lebasque was a war artist. He exhibited in America from 1916 and from 1918 was represented by Galeries Georges Petit. In 1924 Lebasque moved to Le Cannet on the French Riviera, where he shared a model with his friend and neighbour Bonnard. He died in Le Cannet on 6th August 1937.

 

The work of Henri Lebasque is represented in the Louvre, Paris; the Musée d’Orsay, Paris; the Musée d’Angers; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA; the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, MO; the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo; the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid.

 

 

[1] See Bazetoux, op. cit., nos.792-919.

ImpressionistHenri Lebasque