Picabia, a late-coming Impressionist painter

On 21 June 2019, by Anne Foster

Deciding to become a painter, Francis Picabia followed in the footsteps of the Impressionists Sisley, Pissarro and Monet, whose motifs he happily followed.

Francis Picabia (1879-1953), Les Châtaigniers à Munot, effet de soleil (The Chestnut Trees at Munot, Effect of Sunlight), 1907, oil on original canvas, 73 x 92 cm.
Estimate: €120,000/150 000

The field shimmers in the summer heat. A farmer in a straw hat bends over, probably to pull out a weed. In the distance, a line of green hills closes off the horizon. These are just details highlighting this painting’s true subject: the venerable chestnut trees. Picabia was a well-know painter at the time and his Impressionist paintings sold very well. To highlight what he owed his famous forerunners, the artist multiplied references to the time of day or the season or hinted at the atmosphere. Professor Pierre Arnauld says, “Picabia is still a man of processes in several works showing chestnut trees, painting with tight, criss-crossing strokes strongly recalling Pissarro’s rustic subjects." Begun in 1906, this series devoted to those trees was probably made from postcards or photographs. The future Dadaist is fully aware of imitating the Impressionists, citing Cézanne's idea that "in art, one is a revolutionary or a plagiarist".

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