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Albert Marquet - Bassin d'Arcachon, Le Pyla

Albert Marquet

Bassin d'Arcachon, Le Pyla

Oil on panel: 12.9(h) x 16.1(w) in / 32.7(h) x 41(w) cm
Signed lower right: marquet; titled and dated '35 on the reverse

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 Bordeaux 1875 - 1947 Paris

Ref: BZ 101


Bassin d'Arcachon, jardin au Pyla


Signed lower right: marquet; titled and dated on the reverse

Oil on panel: 12 7/8 x 16 1/8 in / 32.7 x 41 cm

Frame size: 18 ½ x 21 5/8 in / 47 x 54.9 cm

In a Louis XV pastel style carved and gilded frame

Painted in 1935






The artist;

by inheritance to his wife Marcelle Marquet, Paris, 14th June 1947;

Galerie Katia Granoff, Paris, circa 1948, by exchange with the above (as Bassin d’Arcachon);

private collection, France, acquired from the above, circa December 1948 (as Jardin, Arcachon);

by descent in a private collection, France


To be included in the forthcoming Digital Catalogue Raisonné of the work of Albert Marquet currently being prepared by the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc., ref. 20.12.15/20779



Albert Marquet was fascinated by water, ports and coastline, evoking the individual light and changing terrain of his native France with a serene economy of composition and a sensitive use of colour and tone. In the early years of the twentieth century he was associated with the Fauves, forming lifelong friendships with Camoin, Rouault, Manguin and Matisse. By 1935, when this painting was made, Marquet had forged a highly individual manner influenced by aspects of Impressionism, the work of Cézanne and the graceful restraint of Japanese prints.


This view had a deep personal resonance for Marquet as it depicts the coastline of the Baie d’Arcachon, 55km south-west of Bordeaux, where he was born into family of modest means. He spent summers with his mother’s family on the Bassin d’Arcachon, looking after the cows and living as a peasant. One early painting of Pins au Pyla, made in 1895, he treasured all his life.


The golden sand of the Dune du Pyla, 3km long and fringed by pine forest, forms Europe’s largest dune, sheltered by Cap Ferret, a long spit of land on the other side of the bay. Arcachon, just north of the dune, was a small fishing village until the railway arrived in 1857. It then became a fashionable resort for the haut bourgeoisie of Bordeaux, honoured in 1865 by a visit from the famous novelist Alexandre Dumas père (1802-1870).


Marquet spent two months in the summer of 1935 at the Villa Robinson in Pyla-sur-Mer. Marquet’s wife Marcelle recalled the house among the pines, with wooden steps that led down to the beach. ‘Des bateaux à voile circulaient là du matin au soir sur une eau le plus souvent calme. A marée basse, une plus grande étendue de sable blond nous en séparait, mais si lumineux qu’il semblait fait pour mettre en valeur les jeux auxquels, pour notre enchantement, elle s’abandonnait’. 


In Bassin d’Arcachon, Le Pyla the dark green of the pines is a foil for the luminous bay, painted in a soft eau-de-nil flecked with rhythmic waves. Marquet is a master of understatement, distilling the essence of the scene. A single yacht floats at the centre of the painting. The vertical lattice of the pine trunks is held in tension by the picket fence, the green line of the horizon and Cap Ferret to the right. Matisse compared the exquisite restraint of Marquet’s work to that of the Japanese printmaker Hokusai (1760-1849). Inspired by the tranquillity of Pyla, Marquet produced thirty works, including the present painting and Jardin au Pyla (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux).




Albert Marquet, Jardin au Pyla, 1935. Oil on canvas.

Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux.














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’.


The work of Albert Marquet is represented in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Musée des Beaux-Arts, La Rochelle; the Musée de Grenoble; the Hermitage, St Petersburg; Tate, London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.


Other Works By
Albert Marquet:

Albert Marquet - Pins au Pyla Albert Marquet - Moulin à Villennes Albert Marquet - Baigneurs à Carqueiranne