Bord du Loing à Moret, effet de soleil
Oil on canvas: 32(h) x 39.4(w) in / 81.3(h) x 100(w) cm
Signed and dated lower left: Picabia; signed, titled and dated 1908 on the stretcher
1879 – Paris – 1953
Bords du Loing à Moret, effet du soleil
Signed and dated lower left: Picabia;
signed, titled and dated 1908 on the stretcher
Oil on canvas: 32 x 39 ⅜ in / 81.3 x 100 cm
Frame size: 40 x 47 in / 101.6 x 119.4 cm
Private collection, France, 1937;
by descent in the collection of M. and Mme Bouilliat, Paris
Paris, Galeries Georges Petit, Exposition des tableaux par F Picabia, March 1909, no.2
Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Francis Picabia, 23rd January-29th March 1976, pp.54-55, illus.; 184, no.6 (as Les bords du loing à Moret en automne, wrongly dated 1906; lent by Bouilliat)
Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Francis Picabia: singulier idéal, 8th November 2002-15th March 2003, p.144, illus. in colour (as Bords du Loing à Moret, effet d'automne, wrongly dated 1906; lent by M. and Mme Bouilliat)
G Tondu, 'Francis Picabia - L'impressionnisme et Moret', La revue de Moret et sa région, Moret-sur-Loing, 1979, pp.15, 19, illus.
M-L Borràs, Picabia, Paris 1985, p.78, no.174, illus. in colour
William Camfield, Beverley Calte, Candace Clements, Arnauld Pierre, Pierre Calte, Francis Picabia, catalogue raisonné, vol. I, 1898-1914, New Haven and London 2014, p.281, no.349, illus. in colour
Francis Picabia had a very successful early career painting Impressionist landscapes, which are remarkable for their vibrant impasto and subtle response to light. Born into a wealthy Franco-Cuban family, he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts with Fernand Cormon and attended the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs from 1895 to 1897. He turned heads with his mysterious air of a Spanish grandee, his ‘recherché elegance’ and ‘eyes which had both blue and black reflections as in a deep-piled velvet’.
Always a rebel, Picabia soon jettisoned the dark tones of academic painting to embrace Impressionist light and colour, finding themes in rivers such as the Loing and the Yonne, which were deeply rural, but easily accessible by rail from Paris. Picabia declared: ‘My school is the sky, the countryside, whether desolate or picturesque, the lanes, the valleys, life in the open air. The sun is the great master. He never awards a medal or a Prix de Rome, but he has created Pissarro and Sisley’.
The theme of figures walking along the banks of the Loing is familiar from the work of Alfred Sisley, who lived in Moret from 1880 until his death in 1899. In this work of 1908, Picabia paints the tranquil, sun-soaked river and the light filtering through the trees in homage to Sisley, but adds an extra vibrancy to the brushwork and his vivid colour sense, which parallels the Fauve experiments of the early twentieth century. The figures to the left, in dappled sunlight, are composed from twisted skeins of purple, pink and blue impasto. The trunks of the trees are vibrant dabs of pinks and reds, while the leaves shimmer in dots of gold and ochre. The profound emotion of Picabia’s response to nature is evident in the life and movement which he imparts to the picture surface.
1879 – Paris – 1953
Exuberant, extravagant and individualistic, Francis Picabia was one of the most influential artists of the first half of the twentieth century. Born in Paris in 1879 of wealthy Cuban and French parents, he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts with Fernand Cormon and attended the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs from 1895 to 1897.
Picabia’s first works were Impressionist landscapes influenced by Pissarro and Sisley. In 1909 he married the musicologist Gabrielle Buffet (they divorced in 1931), with whom he shared an interest in the avant-garde. Picabia adopted the harmonies of form, colour and movement outlined by the poet Guillaume Apollinaire in his definition of Orphism (1912) and exhibited works with the Section d’Or that year.
In 1913 Picabia exhibited at the Armory Show in New York which introduced the French avant-garde to America. The jazzy rhythms and frenetic pace of New York life were reflected in his dazzling, fractured gouaches, echoing the Futurists’ obsession with modern urban life. Picabia spent the First World War in New York, Barcelona and Switzerland, collaborating with Alfred Steiglitz at his 291 gallery and developing Dada with Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp’s concept of the ‘ready-made’ influenced Picabia’s works in which machine parts express human sexuality, ridiculing bourgeois art and morality. In Barcelona in 1916, Picabia began to publish the magazine 391, which had a decisive influence on Dada in France. From 1919 to 1924 he produced his most seminal Dadaist works in Paris, the butt of public outrage, but applauded by critics such as André Breton. Typically averse to confining himself to one style, he also painted large, pseudo-Classical figure compositions.
In 1925, considering that Dada had become far too mainstream, Picabia used a large inheritance from his uncle, Maurice Davanne, to buy a house at Mougins, near Cannes. He produced a series of Monsters, figures with doubled eyes and quivering outlines, and Transparencies (1927-c.1931), figures transposed onto landscapes and flowers in a mélange of shifting visions. Both mockingly reflect the great tradition of European painting, with motifs from Michelangelo, Titian and Rubens.
In the late 1930s Picabia experimented with abstract painting. His brash Hollywood nudes, produced during the Second World War, have been seen as precursors of Pop Art. In 1940 he married Olga Mohler, the former nanny of his son Lorenzo by his mistress Germaine Everling. They returned to Paris in 1945. Picabia continued to experiment and also to re-explore elements of his previous styles, often overpainting earlier works. He died in Paris on 30th November 1953.
The work of Francis Picabia is represented in the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; Philadephia Museum of Art; Tate, London; the Pompidou Centre, Paris; the Kunsthaus, Zurich and the Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid.
 Marie de la Hire, quoted in Maria Lluïsa Borràs, Picabia, London 1985, p.49.
 Quoted in Borràs, op. cit., p.49.