Le Chamber Bleu Villefranche Sur Mer, c 1927

by Henri Eugene Augustin Le Sidaner

Le Sidaner said that no landscape was worth painting unless it was enhanced by some play of light. He experimented with all sources of light, including sunlight, sunset and the illuminating “clair de lune”. The son of a sea captain, he was drawn in particular to the play of light on water.

DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 18.0 x 21.0 in./ 45.7 x 53.3 cm
SIGNATURE: Signed lower right
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas

Situated in the heart of the Côte d’Azur, between Monaco, Nice and Cannes, Villefranche sur Mer is a small, medieval town famous for its beautiful bay. First seduced by the town in 1910, Le Sidaner returned on numerous occasions between 1924 and 1928. During these trips he would stay in the Hôtel Welcome, located in the very heart of the old harbour.

Private collection, United Kingdom

Henri Le Sidaner was born to Breton parents in 1862 at Port Louis in Mauritius, where he developed an interest for drawings early on. His father was an inspector at the French Lloyd and correspondent of the Véritas Bureau. His family returned to France in 1872 and settled in Dunkirk, where he began his art studies under A.Desmit.

In 1882, Le Sidaner was enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts and, in 1884, he studied the instruction of Alexandre Cabanel, who always supported him in his artistic endeavours.

When Henri moved to Etaples on the Côte d’Opale, he discovered impressionist paintings. At the Salon of 1882, he was overwhelmed by two paintings from Manet: “Le Printemps” and “Un bar aux Folies-Bergère”.

That same year, he discovered the paintings of Claude Monet and his friends which encouraged him to start painting with the same technique, depicting the small port of Etaples. “It is a place of noble character,” he wrote “with beautiful single lines, harmonious horizons of water and dunes, to some extent this severe place that our great Cazin immortalised”.

Between 1885 and 1894, Le Sidaner spent all year round at Etaples’ art colony and was joined there by his childhood friend Eugène Chigot (1860-1923), who shared his interest in atmospheric light. Le Sidaner also travelled extensively throughout France and visited many cities around the globe and in 1894, moved to Paris, rue Émile Allez.

1896 marks a turning point in his work. The symbolist inspiration of his subjects boosts a renewed interest for light. More than the subject itself, it is the specific surrounding luminosity that the painter attempts to capture. During this period of intense creative activity, Le Sidaner’s taste for light effects focuses on light-dark and twilight tones. By gradually discarding diffuse gleams of gray, blue and pearled white, he revealed juxtaposed touches of greens, pinks, reds or purples.




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