Henri Le Sidaner
1862 - 1939
Terrasse au clair de lune, Villefranche-sur-mer, c.1927-29
Signed 'Le Sidaner' lower left
Oil on canvas
15 1/8 x 18 1/4 in, 38.2 x 46.2 cm
Situated in the heart of the Côte d'Azur, between Monaco, Nice and Cannes, Villefranche-sur-Mer is a small, medieval town famous for its beautiful bay. First seduced by the town in...
Situated in the heart of the Côte d'Azur, between Monaco, Nice and Cannes, Villefranche-sur-Mer is a small, medieval town famous for its beautiful bay. First seduced by the town in 1910, Le Sidaner returned on numerous occasions between 1924 and 1928. During these trips he would stay in the Hôtel Welcome, located in the very heart of the old harbour. This composition belongs to an exquisite series of images recording the quiet calm of the bay that bewitched him.
Le Sidaner first studied painting in Paris during the 1880s; he was a student at the atelier of Alexandre Cabanel and then at the École nationale des Beaux-Arts. In the French capital he was inspired by both the Impressionists’ painterly technique and the mysterious atmospheres favoured by the Symbolists. Over time Le Sidaner brought these two generally contrasting strands together, creating works that pay homage to the beauty of the natural world.
Le Sidaner said that no landscape was worth painting unless it was enhanced by some play of light. He experimented with all sources of light, including sunlight, sunset and the illuminating “clair de lune”. The son of a sea captain, he was drawn in particular to the play of light on water, which he has captured here with his shimmering brushwork and masterful use of tone.
Painted at the apogée of his career, 'Terrasse au clair de lune, Villefranche-sur-mer' is characteristic of Le Sidaner’s majestic and richly painted compositions from the 1920s, in which seascapes are often framed by the classical lines of balconies, pillars or a terrace such as this. By this time, human figures no longer appear in his canvases. As Paul Signac noted: “His entire work is influenced by a taste for tender, soft and silent moods. Gradually, he has gone so far as to eliminate from his paintings all human figures, as if fearing that the slightest human element might disturb their cocooned stillness”.
Private Collection, Paris
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Yann Farinaux-Le Sidaner and dated 1 June 2010. It will also be included in the forthcoming supplement to the Le Sidaner catalogue raisonné.