Le quai des Esclavons, 1936
Signed with initials
Ink on paper
4 1/4 x 4 3/4 in, 10.5 x 11 cm
Marquet alongside friends and fellow students at the Atelier Moreau; Matisse, Rouault and Camoin, was one of the original Fauve artists, exhibiting at the scandalous Salon d’Automne in 1905. Positioned...
Marquet alongside friends and fellow students at the Atelier Moreau; Matisse, Rouault and Camoin, was one of the original Fauve artists, exhibiting at the scandalous Salon d’Automne in 1905. Positioned in the stylistic wake of Impressionism and teetering on the brink of Modernity, he played a pivotal role within Post-Impressionist progressions towards a more coherent and rigorous methodology for art.
Captivated by water, Marquet used aquatic scenes as the principal subjects of his oeuvre, with the motifs of quays, sailing boats and beaches featuring prominently. Water became almost a tool for abstraction, enabling the artist to develop his own intuitive minimalism; to capture the essence of a scene from the scarcest of touches. Venice, with its beautiful lagoon and network of canals provided an abundance of imagery perfect for his characteristic reductions of tone and form.
A frequent visitor to the city, Marquet had an almost obsessional preoccupation with the Venetian light, revisiting familiar views over and over. Marquet was especially attracted to the decrepit poignancy of forgotten palaces or canals never travelled by gondolas. He sought a discrete and tender Venice; its charms hidden behind the crowds. In the evenings he would explore the quieter streets, revelling in their contrast to the constantly bustling tourist spots.
Within Marquet’s drawing of Venice we see his exceptional skill as a draughtsman. Alongside Matisse, he was central to the exploration and development of evocative line, exploring its use within landscape, in a bold progression away from Matisse’s figurative preoccupations. Each new view of Venice discovered would be sketched rapidly in an act of identification with the environment. Working frequently from windows or balconies he could maintain the detached, high viewpoint he preferred.
This beautiful drawing executed during a trip to Venice in 1936 shows the Quai des Esclavons as viewed from Santa Maria della Pietà. Marquet‘s unique realism captures perfectly the games of light, reflections on water and bustling animation of the scene, depicting the most fugitive aspects through the barest of touches.