In 1880 Henri Le Sidaner moved to Paris where he studied painting first at the atelier of Alexandre Cabanel and then at the Ecole nationale des Beaux-Arts. In the French capital he received fresh inspiration from both the Impressionist painterly technique and the mysterious and compelling atmospheres favoured by the Symbolists. Over time Le Sidaner brought these two generally contrasting strands together in his own art, creating works that pay homage to the beauty and the mystery of the natural world.
Increasingly self-assured and critically acclaimed in his artistic vision, Le Sidaner’s technique, style and ambition were already set by the turn of the century. In 1900 he exhibited in the first exhibition of the Société Nouvelle at the Galerie Georges Petit, alongside such artist friends as Henri Martin and Edmond Aman-Jean. He subsequently won a contract from the prestigious Galerie Georges Petit, and was given regular solo exhibitions there.
Born on the island of Mauritius, Le Sidaner studied with academic painter Alexandre Cabanel at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, but his zeal for the innovations of Impressionism led him to reject the conventions of his training in favor of the avant-garde movements of fin-de-siècle France. Early in his career, he was linked with both the Pre-Raphaelites and the Symbolists. Although he began his public career at the conservative Salon des Artistes Français, where he was recognized with a third-class medal and travel grant in 1891, he later exhibited at the Salon of the Société Nationale, a Société directed by Puvis de Chavannes after 1892 and known for it’s acceptance of modern tendencies. He enjoyed continued favor and was regularly honored by solo shows not only in Paris, but also in London, Brussels, and the United States. By 1930, Le Sidaner, who already an officer of the Legion of Honor, was elected a member of the Institut, gaining a position at the Académie des Beaux-Arts. He was named its president in 1937.
Le Sidaner wintered in Versailles often in the early years of the twentieth century, and eventually moved there in 1914, where he painted Bassin de Trianon à L’Automne in 1937. It is evident from the particular window design that Le Sidaner has depicted an architectural detail from the Château du Grand Trianon on the grounds of Versailles. The painting stands as a superb example of Le Sidaner’s mature work. As with many of these later works, Le Sidaner’s approach is less about the specifics of the site and aimed more about creating an evocation of intimacy and quietude. The dappled surfaces and diffused light described by his vibrant pointillist technique collapses the sense of distance and adds an air of timelessness and nostalgia to the scene. This effect is further enhanced by the omission of any figures from the composition. “His oeuvre displays a taste for tender, soft and silent atmospheres. Gradually, he went so far as to eliminate all human presence from his pictures, as if he feared that the slightest human form might disturb their muffled silence” (Y. Farinaux- Le Sidaner, op cit., p. 31). With Bassin de Trianon à L’Automne, Le Sidaner has created a seemingly private space within a public area, a favorite device of the artist, who treasured private and intimate settings.
Galerie Marcel Flavian, Paris
Sale: Dumousset Deburaux, Paris, Collection Flavian, 17th July 1998, lot 192
Sotheby’s, London, 2008
Private collection, Connecticut
Paris, Musée Galliera, Rétrospective Henri Le Sidaner, 1948, no. 9
Paris, Galerie Lorenceau, “Lo Poésie de L’eau” par Henri Le Sidaner, 1950
Yann Farinaux-Le Sidaner, Le Sidaner, L’oeuvre Peint et Grave, Milan, 1989, no. 775, illustrated p. 282