In 1880 Henri Le Sidaner moved to Paris where he studied painting first at the atelier of Alexandre Cabanel and then at the Ecole nationale des Beaux-Arts. In the French capital he received fresh inspiration from both the Impressionist painterly technique and the mysterious and compelling atmospheres favoured by the Symbolists. Over time Le Sidaner brought these two generally contrasting strands together in his own art, creating works that pay homage to the beauty and the mystery of the natural world.
Increasingly self-assured and critically acclaimed in his artistic vision, Le Sidaner’s technique, style and ambition were already set by the turn of the century. In 1900 he exhibited in the first exhibition of the Société Nouvelle at the Galerie Georges Petit, alongside such artist friends as Henri Martin and Edmond Aman-Jean. He subsequently won a contract from the prestigious Galerie Georges Petit, and was given regular solo exhibitions there.
Le Sidaner moved to Versailles in 1903 with his wife-to-be, Camille. Alongside his home at Gerberoy, Versailles was to become his favourite place of residence. In 1912 he exhibited his first series of paintings of Versailles at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. He continued to paint scenes of its gardens and architecture for the rest of his life and was crowned in 1928 ‘le peintre de Versailles’ by Camille Mauclair.
This study for the full-scale painting 'Jet d'eau au clair de lune' relates to the series of 'Jets d’eau' that Le Sidaner created in the late 1930s, the last years of his life during which he was so greatly celebrated and honoured. As with the others, this painting was inspired by the notorious fountains of Versailles. In it we see Le Sidaner’s intricate researches into colour and light, leading him to near abstraction.
It is also interesting to note that in the 1930s, perhaps in order to meet the means of smaller collectors in the depression hit years, Le Sidaner took to exhibiting smaller works such as these studies on panel alongside his full scale paintings. He showed them at the Salon and at the Galerie Georges Petit, where they were widely remarked upon for their freedom of execution.
Private Collection, Paris
Yann Farinaux-Le Sidaner, Le Sidaner. L’oeuvre peint et l’oeuvre gravé, Editions André Sauret, Milan, 1989, no. 1273, p.389, illus.
Yann Farinaux-Le Sidaner, 'Henri Le Sidaner Paysages intimes', Monelle Hayot, 2013, illus. p.283