Le moulin a Villennes
Oil on canvas board: 10.2(h) x 13.7(w) in / 26(h) x 34.9(w) cm
Signed lower right
Bordeaux 1875 - 1947 Paris
Le moulin à Villennes
Signed lower right: marquet
Oil on canvas board: 10 ¼ x 13 ¾ in / 26.5 x 34.6 cm
Frame size: 18 x 21 in / 45.7 x 53.3 cm
Painted in 1910
Private collector, France, acquired in the 1930s;
by descent to his grandchild
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. 20.02.14/20674
Albert Marquet drew inspiration from the rivers and coastline of France, endlessly fascinated by the play of sunlight on water. He lived in an apartment on the Seine in Paris and often explored the meanderings of the river, the defining waterway of northern France. This painting of 1910 depicts Villennes-sur-Seine, thirty-six kilometres west of the capital. Like Triel-sur-Seine, where Marquet also painted, Villennes became a popular leisure spot for prosperous Parisians after the advent of the railway in 1844 and the building of the station in 1880. The Seine offered the delights of pleasure boating, fishing and swimming; the village and Ile de Villennes became dotted with elaborate holiday villas. The water mill provided a picturesque subject for Marquet, just as the mills of Moret-sur-Loing had done for Alfred Sisley (1839-1899).
Since his youthful days in the studio of Gustave Moreau, Marquet had been friends with Camoin, Rouault, Manguin and Matisse, dubbed ‘Fauves’ (Wild Beasts) in 1905 for their employment of vibrant hues and bold brushwork. This Fauvist legacy is apparent in the radical simplification of this landscape, with elements firmly outlined in blue-grey. Marquet’s subtle sense of colour is however unique to him. The use of moss- and blue-green in the blocks of foliage and the salmon-pink of the mill’s roof are signature colours with him.
From 1907 Marquet’s interest in Japonisme becomes more apparent. His friend Matisse later compared the refinement of Marquet’s landscapes to the prints of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), with their blocks of colour and air of monumental calm. Le moulin à Villennes is classically balanced. The bridge divides the composition exactly in two; the reflection of the mill on the right is balanced by the tree reflection on the left. Marquet’s manipulation of tone – the intense light on the bridge and the sun-warmed stucco of the mill, set against lush foliage – perfectly evokes a summer day in northern France.
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.