Medium: Oil On Canvas
Size: 73 x 92 cm
Signed: Initialed on verso H.L
Mme. Reymond Lebasque; Purchased at the XXI Venice Biennale, 14 October 1938.; Private Collection, Switzerland.; By descent until 2000.
The Retrospective Exhibition at the French Pavilion, XXI Esposizione Internazionale d’Art, Biennale di Venezia, 1938
Lebasque began his career at the École des Beaux-Arts d’Angers but moved to Paris in 1886 to study under Léon Bonnat. Lebasque there met Camille Pissarro and Auguste Renoir, who would affect his work tremendously; Lebasque’s artistic vision was equally coloured however, by friendships with younger painters Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard. In 1903, together with his friend Henri Matisse, Henri Lebasque founded the Salon d’Automne. The painting here dates from shortly afterwards and the artist’s symbiotic relationship with Matisse during the period is clear.
Georges Rouault, André Derain, Vuillard and Matisse would all exhibit at the Salon d’Automne; the group would be dubbed Les Fauves (wild beasts) by 1912, for their radical, unsubtle use of colour and flattening of forms. Lebasque subscribed to the group’s tenets and practiced them, but retained a delicacy and restraint in his palette in line with his own artistic vision.
In 1924, Lebasque moved to Le Cannet on the French Riviera, where he and Pierre Bonnard often worked together. Time in the south of France would forever alter Lebasque’s palette and consequently transform his oeuvre. Though Lebasque had met with earlier successes, his reputation would be cemented by the paintings of this period -one critic hailing him ‘the painter of joy and light’.
Lebasque’s odalisque-like, out-stretched nudes in peaceful repose from this time are intimate paintings. The model’s form is rounded and flattened in contrast to an often piercing light and washed-out palette.