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Henri Le Sidaner - Le canal, soleil, Gisors (Les maisons sur la riviere)

Henri Le Sidaner

Le canal, soleil, Gisors (Les maisons sur la riviere)

Oil on canvas: 21.5(h) x 26(w) in / 54.6(h) x 66(w) cm
Signed lower left; Le Sidaner

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Port-Louis 1862 - 1939 Versailles

Ref: CA 179


Le canal, soleil, Gisors (Les maisons sur la rivière)


Signed lower left: Le Sidaner

Oil on canvas: 21 ½ x 26 in / 54.6 x 66 cm

Frame size: 29 x 33 in / 73.7 x 83.8 cm

In a Louis XIV style carved and gilded frame


Painted in 1913




Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, no.2170 and 9266, acquired from the artist;

Georges Petit Collection;

his sale, 4th March 1921, lot 96;

where acquired by Monsieur J Labbé;

by descent in a private collection, France



Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, February 1925, Exposition Le Sidaner, La Maison, Les Heures et Les Saisons, no.35



Y Farinaux-Le Sidaner, Le Sidaner, l’oeuvre peint et gravé, Paris 1989, p.136, no.315, illus.



Henri Le Sidaner was attracted to oblique and mysterious light, never the harshness of noon. He preferred to paint l’heure bleue of Mediterranean dusk or his own garden at Giverny with sunlight fretted by the leaves of a vine. This painting depicts Gisors, the picturesque, historic capital of the Norman Vexin, about twenty-two miles south-west of Le Sidaner’s home in Giverny. 


Gisors is traversed by the River Epte and a network of canals. Le Sidaner depicts one of these canals lined with old houses, sunlight playing pink, orange and gold across their undulating façades. The water of the canal fragments their reflections into tiny touches of warm colours striated by gleaming, turquoise diagonals. The windowsill with geraniums is a typical motif of the artist, throwing into relief the shadowed side of the composition. Le Sidaner creates a scene of dreamlike calm and contentment, unpeopled, yet profoundly humane.


Le canal, soleil, Gisors was part of an important exhibition of Le Sidaner’s paintings at Galerie Georges Petit in 1925. The poet and art critic Camille Mauclair, reviewing the exhibition, commented: ‘In the past, [Le Sidaner] seemed to proceed as an Impressionist, painting light on surfaces rather than surfaces themselves, noting with sweet delicacy the slow decline of a brilliance forgotten by an invisible sky, depicting the gentle struggles of reflections, offering half-seen visions of diffuse luminescences…But as he gradually changed, he learned like Rodenbach and Debussy, whom he resembled, to transform the impressionist technique into a way of expressing the inner life’[1].



Port-Louis 1862 - 1939 Versailles



Henri Le Sidaner was born in Port Louis, Mauritius in 1862, the son of a shipbroker of Breton descent. At the age of ten his family moved to Dunkirk and in 1880, after the death of his father, to Paris. Le Sidaner entered the studio of Alexandre Cabanel at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1884, but was more inspired by Manet than by his master’s dry academicism.

In 1889 he moved to Etaples, where he met the painters Eugène Chigot and Henri Duhem, who were to remain lifelong friends. Le Sidaner made plein-air paintings of Breton peasants and fishermen in a subdued palette.


In 1892 a grant allowed him to paint in Florence, Venice and Katwijk in Holland. In 1894 he settled in Paris, transferring his allegiance from the Salon to the more avant-garde Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. In this period Le Sidaner produced paintings such as the 1896 Morning (Musée de Dunkerque) and Twilight (private collection), which combine elements of Impressionist technique with Symbolist themes. That year he signed a contract with the Mancini Gallery.


In 1898 Le Sidaner turned decisively towards the highly individual style, building on the innovations of Impressionism, that would characterise his work for the rest of his life. In 1898 he went to Bruges with his lover Camille; their son Louis was born in Paris in October, although the couple was based in Bruges for another year. In 1899 they returned to Paris and Le Sidaner became one of the group of artists represented by Galeries Georges Petit, which would give him financial stability and remain his dealer until 1930.


Le Sidaner, keen to buy a country house around which he could develop a garden, was advised by Rodin to visit the terrain near Beauvais. In 1901 he rented a cottage in the picturesque town of Gerberoy (Seine et Oise). He bought it in 1904 and in 1910 greatly enlarged the house, creating a paradisiacal garden which provided the inspiration for many of his later paintings. Le Sidaner developed a poetic style of Post-Impressionism which explores the qualities of light and objects through harmonies and counterpoint of subtle tones. After 1900 he rarely included figures in his paintings, implying human presence through his interest in depicting a community of ancient houses, or a table set for tea. Le Sidaner’s works, with their evocation of mood and emotional engagement with landscape, have affinities with the music of ‘Impressionist’ composers such as Claude Debussy.


Le Sidaner travelled in search of new motifs, wintering in Venice or London to escape the freezing cold of Gerberoy. From 1914 his family was based at a comfortable house in Versailles and summered in Gerberoy. From around 1920 his paintings employ a lighter palette and sparer, more dreamlike compositions. He was awarded the Légion d’Honneur in 1913 and the First Prize at the 1925 Pittsburgh International. Henri Le Sidaner died in Paris in 1939.




[1] Preface to the 1925 Georges Petit exhibition, quoted in Farinaux-Le Sidaner, op. cit., p.39.

Other Works By
Henri Le Sidaner:

Henri Le Sidaner - La petite table Henri Le Sidaner - La table sur le jardin fleuri au crépuscule, Gerberoy


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