This impressive sale included the painter of monumental compositions, artists born on the Armorican Peninsula of Brittany and those who enthusiastically called it home.
Jean Souverbie (1891-1981), Nu debout à la cruche (Standing Nude with a Jug), 1927, oil on canvas, 102 x 76 cm/40.16 x 29.92 in.
The highlight of this sale in Brest, Jean Souverbie’s large Nu debout à la cruche (Standing Nude with a Jug), fetched €225,680, over twice its high estimate of €100,000. The oil on canvas of 1927 is characteristic of his work on stylized, monumental figures. In perfect harmony with interwar aesthetics, the figure leaning on one elbow features volumes and superimpositions in muted, sensual hues.
Henri Moret’s much more realistic style was illustrated by two paintings of France’s West coast, including his 1908 Bateaux de pêche, Doëlan (Fishing Boats, Doëlan). A certificate by Jean-Yves Rolland, a Moret specialist and author of his catalogue raisonné, accompanied the oil on canvas (46 x 55 cm/18.11 x 21.65 in), for which bidders battled up to €101,680. But Brittany drew painters from all over Europe and even further afield. Wladyslaw Slewinski, a Polish artist who followed Paul Gauguin to Le Pouldu in 1890, settled in Pont-Aven in 1910 and died in Paris. His Portrait présumé d'Henryk Sienkiewicz (Presumed Portrait of Henryk Sienkiewicz, 92 x 65 cm/36.22 x 25.59 in.) sold for €71,920. Sienkiewicz was the author of Quo vadis? and winner of the 1905 Nobel Prize for Literature. But the highest bid for a work by the atypical artist, €80,600, went to a simple still life (61 x 50 cm/24.01 x 19.68 in.). Irish-born Roderic O'Conor also joined the artists' colony in Pont-Aven, staying there often between 1887 and 1904. His 1921 oil on canvas Still Life with Roses and Cucumber (92 x 73 cm/36.22 x 28.74 in), which fetched €79,360, owes much to that experience. However, James Ensor’s Bateaux échoués (Stranded Boats) did not find a buyer.