In 1886, Puigaudeau made his first visit to the quiet seaside village of Pont-Aven. There he booked a room at Gloanec's, a popular hotel for artists on a budget. It so happens that Paul Gauguin was also making his first visit and staying at the same hotel. Puigeaudeau, along with a small number of aspiring artists were in a wholly unique position of observing and working alongside one of the most important painters of the late nineteenth century. Inspired by their contact with Gauguin, a number of these artists created a quite radical movement in painting. They call themselves the Nabis, the Hebrew word for Prophet.
Puigaudeau adopted some of the tenets of this new mode such as heightened palette, simplified forms and a vigorous brushwork that is reminiscent of pointillism. He had a passion for the subtitles of light in any form. His garden views and paintings of his home in Kervaudu are imbued with a warm light and freshness of color. Puigaudeau began these paintings sometime around 1907 when he and his family rented the manor depicted in this particular painting from M. Lebreton de Fontenelle. He would remain here until his death on September 15th, 1930.
Because of Kervaudu's location on a peninsula, the area attracted many artists to Nantes. Thus Puigaudeau found himself surrounded by his old friends, Emile Dezaunay, Alexis de Broca and Donatien Roy; and the group would regularly set forth onto the country-side on painting excursions. From 1910 to 1914, Puigaudeau happily criss-crosse through the countryside endlessly painting the sunsets on the sea and windmills.
He developed close relationships with Gauguin, Degas, Rysselberghe, Ensor and Bernard. Degas affectionately referred to Puigeaudeau as the Hermit of Kervaudu.
Its title translating to ‘Waves in the Night,’ Vagues dans la Nuit is ethereal in its mysterious and dark allure. Its palette, rich in dark blues and tawny reds and accentuated by the white halo of the surf, is similar to those found in many of the artist’s late works; these are largely landscapes and seascapes, often captured at sunset or dusk and oftentimes free of any human figures or landmarks. Vagues dans la Nuit borders on the abstract in that it is more a meditation on darkness and the sublime force of nature than it is a rendering of a specific place. Du Puigaudeau likely painted this piece off the coast of Le Croisic, France, where his manor, Kervaudu, was located, and where he lived from 1907 until his death.
Private Collection, Italy
Sale, Il Ponte Casa d'Aste, Italy, November, 2018
This work will be included in Tome II of the Ferdinand du Puigaudeau catalogue raisonné currently being prepared by Antoine Laurentin.