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LOT 0004

Francis Picabia (French, 1879-1953) - Cour de Ferme, Le Soir, Moret

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Francis Picabia (French, 1879-1953) - Cour de Ferme, Le Soir, Moret

Signed and dated ‘Picabia 1904’ bottom right, oil on canvas
23 7/8 x 28 7/8 in. (60.6 x 73.3cm)

Provenance

The Collector's Corner, New York, by 1963.
Private Collection.
Sotheby's, New York, sale of October 3, 1990, lot 29.
Acquired directly from the above sale.
Collection of Sidney Rothberg, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Exhibition

Galerie Haussmann, Paris, 1905, no. 51.
Société des Artistes Français, Paris, 1905, no. 1510.

Literature

Arnaud Pierre, “La Peinture est-elle un Art? Picabia et la Photographie, Les Sources d'un Problème," in Études Photographiques, November 5, 1998, pp. 120-121, fig. 2 (illustrated).
William A. Camfield et al., Francis Picabia: Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. I, 1898-1914, Mercatorfonds, Brussels, 2014, pp. 206-207, no. 135 (illustrated p. 206).

Lot Essay

Cour de Ferme, Le Soir, Moret is a wonderful example of Francis Picabia’s early Impressionist period, executed just five years before he met, and became a part of, a group of artists that would form the Cubist group (among them, Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Léger and Juan Gris). The scene reveals the interior of a farmyard at dusk. It is quiet, save for an anonymous peasant woman to the right, about to feed the nearby chickens their dinner. Set in a restricted, muted palette of sand-tones, grays, and browns enlivened only by anecdotal greens and oranges, the canvas conveys a sense of serenity, stillness almost. This is echoed by the imposing farmyard structure, which almost traps the viewer in the picture plane. This feeling is somewhat contrasted with the overall energetic brushstrokes dispatched throughout the canvas, as well as this timid ray of sunshine highlighting the rooftop at left – a beautiful atmospheric reminder that the day is about to end, as revealed by the rest of the composition entirely set in the shadows.

The influence of Picabia’s Master and mentor, Alfred Sisley, is blatantly evident in this work. Beyond the characteristic Impressionistic technique, the subject matter is intended as a direct reference, and in fact homage, to the British-born Master. Around the time the painting was executed, Picabia would frequently visit Moret, the town where Sisley had spent the last decade of his life and the two companions would often depict the same views side by side. This specific farmyard was well-known to Sisley, who depicted it at several different times of the day throughout the 1880s. Our work is a direct citation from Cour de Ferme à Saint Mammès (1884, Musée d’Orsay): although Picabia offers a larger view of the Estate and dots the scene with singular characters, the vantage point is the same, and depicts identical buildings, all easily identifiable with their characteristic white-lime walls, terracotta roof tiles and the singular presence of a wooden outdoor passageway on the second floor of the main edifice.

Although he was often blamed for adopting a style too close to Sisley’s, contemporary critics applauded Picabias’s oils, sensing his own sensitivity at work. The year following the completion of the present work, in 1905, during Picabia’s first one-man exhibition at Galerie Hausmann in Paris, critic Louis Vauxcelles declared: “There may be suggestions in him of similarities with Pissarro, and especially with Sisley,… but while so many dishonest followers plagiarize Monet, Sisley and Pissarro, and steal their effects, M. Picabia, who already possesses a very individual technique, expresses, year after year, a temperament that is his own, and his alone.

Perhaps even more than any other artists represented in the Rothberg Collection, Francis Picabia was one of the greatest, and most versatile avant-garde artists of his time, mastering nearly every major artistic movement in the first half of the twentieth century. Alternating between Impressionism, Pointillism, Fauve, Cubism, Dadaism and Surrealism, he represented the entire 20th century alone. Picabia himself once pronounced: “If you want to have clean ideas, change them as often as your shirt." This changing personality is what appealed to Sidney Rothberg. This work in particular was important to him; not only did it satisfy Rothberg's collecting philosophy, as it reveals Picabia's artistic debt to Sisley, but it also acted as an Impressionistic swan song, executed just months before Picabia shifted, explored a new phase, and burgeoned into someone new.

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[ translate ]

Francis Picabia (French, 1879-1953) - Cour de Ferme, Le Soir, Moret

Signed and dated ‘Picabia 1904’ bottom right, oil on canvas
23 7/8 x 28 7/8 in. (60.6 x 73.3cm)

Provenance

The Collector's Corner, New York, by 1963.
Private Collection.
Sotheby's, New York, sale of October 3, 1990, lot 29.
Acquired directly from the above sale.
Collection of Sidney Rothberg, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Exhibition

Galerie Haussmann, Paris, 1905, no. 51.
Société des Artistes Français, Paris, 1905, no. 1510.

Literature

Arnaud Pierre, “La Peinture est-elle un Art? Picabia et la Photographie, Les Sources d'un Problème," in Études Photographiques, November 5, 1998, pp. 120-121, fig. 2 (illustrated).
William A. Camfield et al., Francis Picabia: Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. I, 1898-1914, Mercatorfonds, Brussels, 2014, pp. 206-207, no. 135 (illustrated p. 206).

Lot Essay

Cour de Ferme, Le Soir, Moret is a wonderful example of Francis Picabia’s early Impressionist period, executed just five years before he met, and became a part of, a group of artists that would form the Cubist group (among them, Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Léger and Juan Gris). The scene reveals the interior of a farmyard at dusk. It is quiet, save for an anonymous peasant woman to the right, about to feed the nearby chickens their dinner. Set in a restricted, muted palette of sand-tones, grays, and browns enlivened only by anecdotal greens and oranges, the canvas conveys a sense of serenity, stillness almost. This is echoed by the imposing farmyard structure, which almost traps the viewer in the picture plane. This feeling is somewhat contrasted with the overall energetic brushstrokes dispatched throughout the canvas, as well as this timid ray of sunshine highlighting the rooftop at left – a beautiful atmospheric reminder that the day is about to end, as revealed by the rest of the composition entirely set in the shadows.

The influence of Picabia’s Master and mentor, Alfred Sisley, is blatantly evident in this work. Beyond the characteristic Impressionistic technique, the subject matter is intended as a direct reference, and in fact homage, to the British-born Master. Around the time the painting was executed, Picabia would frequently visit Moret, the town where Sisley had spent the last decade of his life and the two companions would often depict the same views side by side. This specific farmyard was well-known to Sisley, who depicted it at several different times of the day throughout the 1880s. Our work is a direct citation from Cour de Ferme à Saint Mammès (1884, Musée d’Orsay): although Picabia offers a larger view of the Estate and dots the scene with singular characters, the vantage point is the same, and depicts identical buildings, all easily identifiable with their characteristic white-lime walls, terracotta roof tiles and the singular presence of a wooden outdoor passageway on the second floor of the main edifice.

Although he was often blamed for adopting a style too close to Sisley’s, contemporary critics applauded Picabias’s oils, sensing his own sensitivity at work. The year following the completion of the present work, in 1905, during Picabia’s first one-man exhibition at Galerie Hausmann in Paris, critic Louis Vauxcelles declared: “There may be suggestions in him of similarities with Pissarro, and especially with Sisley,… but while so many dishonest followers plagiarize Monet, Sisley and Pissarro, and steal their effects, M. Picabia, who already possesses a very individual technique, expresses, year after year, a temperament that is his own, and his alone.

Perhaps even more than any other artists represented in the Rothberg Collection, Francis Picabia was one of the greatest, and most versatile avant-garde artists of his time, mastering nearly every major artistic movement in the first half of the twentieth century. Alternating between Impressionism, Pointillism, Fauve, Cubism, Dadaism and Surrealism, he represented the entire 20th century alone. Picabia himself once pronounced: “If you want to have clean ideas, change them as often as your shirt." This changing personality is what appealed to Sidney Rothberg. This work in particular was important to him; not only did it satisfy Rothberg's collecting philosophy, as it reveals Picabia's artistic debt to Sisley, but it also acted as an Impressionistic swan song, executed just months before Picabia shifted, explored a new phase, and burgeoned into someone new.

[ translate ]
Sale price
Unlock
Estimate
Unlock
Reserve
Unlock
Time, Location
27 Feb 2024
USA, Philadelphia, PA
Auction House
Unlock