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Lot 60: Roderic O'Conor (1860-1940) Chemin Mènant à Grez

Important Irish Art

by Adam's

May 28, 2014

Dublin, Ireland

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  • Roderic O'Conor (1860-1940) Chemin Mènant à Grez
  • Roderic O'Conor (1860-1940) Chemin Mènant à Grez
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Description: Roderic O'Conor (1860-1940) Chemin Mènant à Grez c.1889 Oil on canvas, 54.5 x 46cm (21½ x 25½'') Signed Provenance: with Godolphin Gallery, Dublin, 1978, purchased by John P. Reihill, Deepwell, Blackrock Exhibited: -Possibily at Salon des Indépendants, Paris, 1890, as Chemin Mènant à Grez, Cat. No. 563 -Roderic O'Conor Exhibition, Godolphin Gallery, Dublin, 1978 (ex cat. iii) -O'Conor Exhibition, Musée de Pont-Aven, France, June-September 1984, Cat. No. 2, illustrated p.36 -Roderic O'Conor, Travelling Exhibition, Barbican Art Gallery, London, September-November 1985; Ulster Museum, Belfast, November 1985-January 1986; National Gallery of Ireland, January-March 1986; Whitford Art Gallery, Manchester, March-May 1986, Cat. No 4 p.63 (b & w), with full page illustration p.18 - Onlookers in France, Irish Realist and Impressionist Painters, Crawford Municipal Gallery, Cork, 1993, illustrated p.18 -Roderic O'Conor: Vision and Expression, The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin 1996, pp.24-25, (ill.) Literature: -Roderic O'Conor, Brian Lynch, ERA 1980, p.21 illustrated -Roderic O'Conor, Jonathan Bennington, 1992, Cat. No. 8, p.189, full page colour illustration (plate 3) -Roderic O'Conor: Vision and Expression, Dr. Roy Johnston, 1996, p.24, full page colour illustration, p.25 This painting of a country road in a rural setting leads the viewer into a bright and sunlit landscape in which there is no indication of either human or animal presence. O'Conor seldom included figures in his landscapes but in this work only the inclusion of the roadside buildings, and those breaking against the horizon line in the middle distance, indicate that we are approaching a rural hamlet or village. Although it has been exhibited on several occasions with the title ''Landscape with Road and Farm Buildings'' the composition and subject matter of this painting strongly suggest that it may be the work known as ''Chemin Mènant à Grez,'' (''Road leading to Grez'') which was catalogued as number 563 in the group of ten works which O'Conor showed at the 1890 Salon des Indépendants, in which he gave his address as Hotel Beausejour, Grez. Coincidentally, Vincent van Gogh, who had taken his own life in June of that year, was represented posthumously in the same exhibition also by ten works. Catalogues for the 1889 Paris Salon and the 1889 Indépendants exhibition, also list O'Conor's address as Hotel Laurent, Grez, confirming his residence in the community in the preceding year. The flat landscape depicted here is typical of the rural environment at Grez-sur-Loing, where there was an active colony of international artists in residence in the village. Many of them stayed in the well known and popular Hotel Chevillon, and others found accommodation in private homes. An important factor in Grez's popularity, particularly for non-French artists, was its proximity to Paris with a frequent train service which ran from the Gare de Lyon to the nearby village of Montigny, making day trips from Paris possible. Its rustic village charm and its location on the river Loing, close to the great forest of Fontainebleau, attracted numerous young visiting artists from America, Scandinavia, Italy, and England, and from as far afield as Japan. In Paris, O'Conor studied under the guidance of Carolus Duran, who had built a considerable reputation as a fashionable society portrait painter. He was also known to be a sympathetic teacher, capable of reaching out to his students and flexible in his instruction so that a broad range of individual needs were catered for and developed in his studio. Judging by the number of Duran's students who are known to have painted at Grez, particularly in the summer months, a special relationship had developed between his atelier and the quiet picturesque village which was less than 70 kilometres to the south of the city, on the fringes of the great forest of Fontainebleau. Grez was also well known to a number of other Irish émigré artists who had painted there, and prior to O'Conor's arrival it had been the choice of Frank O'Meara who had spent 13 years there before illness forced his return to Ireland in 1888. John Lavery had also painted at Grez, as had Katherine MacCausland. It was also in Grez that O'Conor developed a lifelong friendship with the American painter Francis (Frank) Chadwick, owner of the Pension Laurent where O'Conor preferred to stay. Chadwick, a talented painter, had also studied with Duran before O'Conor arrived in Paris, and he quickly became a great admirer and supporter of the Irish painter's work. This important early work shows Roderic O'Conor's awareness and appreciation of Impressionist techniques, which he introduced into his work after he had moved from Dublin to Paris in the autumn of 1886. That was the year of the eighth and last Impressionist group exhibition which had taken place in May, well before O'Conor's arrival. He is, however, likely to have seen numerous paintings in the impressionist style at the annual Salon des Indépendants exhibition held in September, and through visits to the competing galleries of Paul Durand-Ruel and Georges Petit, the leading Impressionist dealers in Paris. In this painting, with its closely related tonal changes, O'Conor has painted the landscape forms and the buildings with that sense of directness and spontaneity which reflected the plein-airism of Impressionist painters such as Monet, Pissaro, and Sisley, and which was to become a defining characteristic of O'Conor's developing painting style. There is little preliminary drawing in evidence and the paint has been applied directly to the canvas using a technique which effectively combines brush and palette knife in the building up of a painterly texture which is wholly appropriate to its subject. Paintings such as this, and O'Conor's earlier ''Groupe des peupliers, effet de soleil,'' 1886, (also known as ''Autumn Landscape'') identify him at this early stage in his career as one of the most advanced English speaking painters of his generation. 1. See Roderic O'Conor, 1860-1940, Retrospective exhibition catalogue, Musée de Pont-Aven, France, 30 June - 30 September,1984 as ''Paysage avec Ferme au Bord de la Route,'' (2); Roderic O'Conor, Retrospective exhibition catalogue, Ulster Museum Belfast; Barbican Art Gallery, London; Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester; National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, as ''Landscape with Road and Farm Buildings,'' (5) (1985?) ; Vision and Expression, Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin, p.24 as ''Landscape with Road and Farm Buildings'' pp.24-25. 2. Formerly known as Hotel or Pension Laurent. Dr. Roy Johnston

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