12 3/16’’ x 9 7/16’’ (310 x 240 mm) - Framing option : 17th century Italian frame in blackened wood - dimensions framed 19 5/16‘’x 16 1/8’’(49 x 41 cm)
Signed lower left (above the fishing net) "E. Isabey"
Provenance: private collection, Paris
This drawing reveals all the technical virtuosity of Eugène Isabey and testifies to his taste for the landscapes of the Normandy coast. This is probably a preparatory drawing : the motif was later used in the series of lithographs "The Six Marines" published in 1833.
1. Eugène Isabey, the great promoter of the Normandy coast
The reputation of Eugène Isabey (1803-1886) has hardly been eclipsed: the abundance of his work has ensured his posterity without the need for a rehabilitation trial. The son of Jean-Baptiste Isabey (1767-1855), the most famous miniaturist of the Empire, Eugène was able to impose his name with ardour: to the precision and suave delicacy of the former, the latter responded with the richness of his palette and the generosity of his touch. As a romantic dramatist, Eugène Isabey immediately orchestrated huge shipwreck scenes. At the same time, he borrowed the taste for antique costumes from the literature of his time and won great success with collectors thanks to his historical evocations.
But his Norman landscapes are probably the best known and most sought-after part of his work. In 1820 he stayed for six months with a coastguard captain in Etretat to paint. He returned in the following years with Richard Parkes Bonington (1802 - 1828) and Camille Roqueplan (1803 - 1855), and stayed in Honfleur in 1824, before moving to Saint-Siméon in 1826.
It was during a trip to The Hague in 1845 that Eugène Isabey met Johan Barthold Jongkind (1819 - 1891), whom he encouraged to come to Paris to his studio in Place Pigalle, where Eugène Boudin (1824 - 1898), who had arrived in 1851, was also trained. Isabey returned regularly with his pupils to the Normandy coast, and it was at his home in Honfleur that Jongkind met Claude Monet (1840 - 1926) in 1862. In 1864, Napoleon III bought from the artist about sixty watercolours, enhanced with gouache, representing the shores and the old towns of this region which the artist had been promoting since the 1820s. Preserved in the Cabinet des Dessins of the Louvre Museum, they were the subject of a dedicated exhibition in 2012.
2. Presentation of the artwork
A fisherman's hamlet, at the foot of a large cliff, in the harsh light of a winter's day... The lower part of the drawing is devoted to a meticulous depiction of the shoreline at low tide, revealing water holes and mooring stakes driven into the sand while the nets have been laid out to dry in the sun on the beach.
The real subject, the refitting of a boat is thus relegated to the background, where we see a group of four fishermen around a fire whose smoke hides most of the boat which is being repaired.
This smoke mingles with the smoke from the two chimneys of the houses on the shore and with the advancing fog. Beyond the precisely rendered houses, as if under the spotlight of a brief sunburst, the landscape dissolves into mist, creating an atmosphere of fantastic strangeness.
The painter plays with the volumes of the boats and the houses, whose roofs are partly erased by the smoke, to compose an almost abstract landscape, animated by tiny human silhouettes described with precision - admire this diaphanous woman who stands out against the light in the narrow path between the two houses!
The artist’s treatment of black ink is virtuoso: to render the brilliance of the humid shore, he does not hesitate to attack the flat areas of ink with a scalpel to create transparency by revealing the brilliance of the paper.
3. Related artworks
It is difficult to locate with certainty the fishermen's hamlet evoked in this drawing, as it could have been recomposed from memories of cliff-lined ports such as Etretat or Fécamp.
This drawing is typical of the work of Eugène Isabey, who is known for having depicted seascapes "without sea". Instead of the surging waves of the sea against the cliffs, he prefers to paint the misery of sailors at low tide, in a fluid style in which precise details stand out, as here.
What is certain, however, is that Isabey used this scene for the "Six Marines" series published in 1833, enlarging it (the print measures 55.6 x 35.4 cm). The lithograph (last photo in the gallery) is close to our drawing in every detail, with the possible exception of the small silhouette between the two houses which we did mention above. The lithographic work, by accentuating the shadows, makes the smoke of the fire lit at the foot of the boat more legible and detaches it from the cloud-laden sky, which is quite different from the padded and velvety background we find in our drawing.
Our drawing is in the same direction as the lithograph, which is unusual and suggests the use of mechanical reproduction processes to reverse and enlarge the image on the lithographic stone.
4. Framing proposal
This drawing can be purchased with or without a frame. To frame it, we propose a 17th century Italian frame in blackened wood with irregularly undulating sides that evoke the marine environment. The additional cost for this framing is € 950.
Main bibliographic reference :
Christophe Leribault - Eugène Isabey - Le Passage 2012 (book published for the Louvre exhibition)
Delevery information :
The prices indicated are the prices for purchases at the gallery.
Depending on the price of the object, its size and the location of the buyer we are able to offer the best transport solution which will be invoiced separately and carried out under the buyer's responsibility.