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    Description

    Gustave Achille Guillaumet (French, 1840-1887)
    Soir d'hiver, Maroc, 1869
    Oil on canvas laid on masonite
    46 x 66-3/4 inches (116.8 x 169.5 cm)
    Signed and dated lower right: G. Guillaumet 1869

    PROVENANCE:
    Private collection, New York;
    Private collection, acquired from the above, circa 1950s;
    By descent to the present owner, Long Island, New York.

    EXHIBITED:
    Paris Salon of 1870, no. 1291.

    LITERATURE:
    E. Boetzel, Le Salon 1870, Lahure, Paris, 1870, engraving of Soir d'hiver, Maroc (in reverse);
    M. Gautheron, Guillaumet, peintre du désert, Cohen & Cohen, Paris, 2018, forthcoming.
    M. Gautheron, L'Algérie de Gustave Guillaumet (1840-1887), exh. cat., La Rochelle, Limoges, Roubaix, 2018, forthcoming.

    The exceptional expressive force of French artist Gustave Guillaumet's North African paintings separate them from the work of most other Orientalists of the late 19th century whose efforts are often more picturesque in nature. A product of the École des Beaux-Arts, Guillaumet was a regular exhibitor at the French Salon by 1861. The following year, with an intention of continuing his studies in Rome, Guillaumet impulsively changed his course to North Africa. Although the artist suffered from numerous spells of malaria, this would be the first of ten trips he made to Algeria and Morocco over the course of his life. The deserts of North Africa and life there profoundly inspired him to dedicate his career to painting them. His canvases won numerous medals and he was eventually awarded the title Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur.

    This landscape of 1869 depicting farmers at the end of a long day of desert labor belongs to Guillaumet's first series of paintings showing peasants working their fields. He produced this series in response to the great crisis of 1866-1869, which ravaged the rural population of Algeria. A combination of factors including locust plagues of 1866 and 1868, a brutal winter in 1867-8, and political upheavals caused a devastating famine followed by a catastrophic epidemic of cholera.

    As Marie Gautheron, the preeminent scholar on the work of Gustave Guillaumet has noted, Soir d'hiver, Maroc (exhibited in the Salon of 1870) was the second painting in the artist's four-painting series which also included: Le labour en Algérie of 1869 (Salon of 1869), now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Limoges; Feux de broussailles en Algérie (exhibited under the title Les Défrichesments in the Salon of 1874), now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon; and Le labour en Algérie (Salon of 1876), private collection.

    Guillaumet's critical success at the Salon of 1869 with Le labour en Algérie continued with his submissions to the Salons of 1870 and 1874, which also portrayed Muslim farmers laboring near the Moroccan border. As Marie Gautheron notes: "Soir d'hiver presents a less exotic scene than that of the previous year, in a more open site, less disturbing. Only a few details assure the Oriental character of the motif that Guillaumet treats here in a spirit very different from that of his previous painting. The facture is still analytical, but the palette has lower contrast, and the composition is as melancholy as the previous work was dramatic. The focus is on the climate: this "cold winter evening" brings the public closer to its subject by showing an aspect of Algeria radically opposed to the stereotypes of a romanticized country with its searing blue skies. The draft horse, the crouching peasant, the gloomy lighting and the landscape dotted with puddles are not unusual. This almost naive image speaks of work in the fields which would be the same, there and here; but the archaic plow, the field lost in immensity, and the discreet koubba give it the same symbolic value as the painting of 1869: Soir d'hiver, Maroc is a variation on Le labour, and takes advantage of its success."

    We are grateful to Marie Gautheron for her scholarly generosity. Extracts from her forthcoming book on Guillaumet that discuss the present painting form the basis for this catalogue note.


    Estimate: $10,000 - $15,000.

    Condition Report*: Framed Dimensions 53 X 72.75 Inches
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