The Pier, Le Havre , 1881
Oil on panel
Signed and dated “Sept. 81”
Dimensions: 26.1cm x 41cm,
With frame: 48 x 61 cm
In 1880, the painter experienced difficulties: the beginnings of a new style of painting, Impressionism, called into question his pictorial approach. His doctor sends him to Menton, he travels in the north of France. Berthe Morisot pushes him towards Impressionism which he adopts in his seascapes, whose sensitivity and modernity are in every way similar to those of Jongkind.
Alfred Stevens paints this picture at this time of pictorial upheavals. It represents the pier near Le Havre, a place of pleasure in Sainte-Adresse made famous by painters (Raoul Dufy, Claude Monet to name but a few). It gives large areas of color, the sea is adorned with an avant-garde material. The shades of gray are punctuated by a few sailboats and the wooden pontoon, the landing stage. The herbs of the dune are suggested by a brushstroke. The sand disappears, it’s high tide. The back of the panel indicates that the painting was put up for sale to us as part of the Ischia raffle, to raise funds in aid of the victims of 1883.
Son of an art dealer, A Stevens was trained in Brussels by J. F. Navez and C. Roqueplan in Paris. He exhibited in Brussels and Paris where he often stayed. He was celebrated as the painter of women, which earned him the title of “French Gerard Terborch” in homage to his talent for rendering details and sumptuous fabrics, but he also painted seascapes and coastal scenes in a freer, almost impressionistic style close to Eugène Boudin and J.B. Jongkind. His painting is clear and luminous, his paste quite nourished. He was a friend of the impressionists, especially Manet and Berthe Morisot.
In 1886, he wrote the famous Impressions sur la peinture , the book was a great success and was translated into several languages:
. Alfred Stevens, Impressions on painting , Paris, Librairie des Bibliophiles, 1883, 96 pages.
. “Le Monde illustré”, August 18, 1883, p. 1-3.
• In Paris, Musée d’Orsay, Musée du Louvre Graphic Arts department.
• In the provinces: Lille Fine Arts Museum, Rouen Fine Arts Museum, Reims Fine Arts Museum, Compiègne Castle National Museum, Dijon Magnin National Museum, Marseille Fine Arts Museum, Fabrice from Montpellier.
Abroad: .New York, Metropolitan Museum