Fig. 02

Rückseite mit Hersteller- und Händlernamen

Brief Report

Guillaumin painted the high tide on the French Atlantic coast on a densely woven standard M30- size canvas pre-primed in white. The verso bears the company logo of the Paris dealers Tasset & l’Hôte, while the stretcher is identified by a stamped mark as the product of Bourgeois Ainé (fig. 2). It was not infrequent for dealers to process items that they had bought in from a larger manufacturer [cf. Van Tilborgh/Hendriks 2006, pp.106, 166] (fig. 6). The Bourgeois Ainé company was among the largest producers of painting requisites in France, and had their stretcher pattern patented with the trademark modèle déposé B, which was regarded as the quality-seal of the age [Bourgeois Ainé 1888, p. 86].

On this canvas, prepared by the dealer, Guillaumin used charcoal or a black chalk or pencil to hastily draw a few outlines of horizon and rocks. The subsequent painting in dynamic brush-strokes was predominantly wet-in-wet, presumably in just two or three sessions. The artist added his signature while the paint-layer was still wet. A few last corrective revisions, highlights and supplements then followed when the paint was dry.

Not only the motif and the painting technique suggest that the picture was painted en plein air, but also various further discoveries. Thus in a number of places we find grains that under the microscope can with certainty be identified as sand, which got embedded into the paint while it was still wet (fig. 11). In addition, we see circular impressions in three of the corners, which could have been made by spacers [cf. Caillebotte, WRM Dep. FC 602; Bomford 1990, p. 178] (fig. 12), in other words small round wooden discs with metal points projecting from the centre of either side, which could be placed in the corners of two freshly painted canvases (the painted sides facing) and thus keep them safely apart for transport [see Winsor & Newton 1896, p. 117]. A third clue to the out-of-doors origin of the picture is a pencil note by Guillaumin himself on the stretcher verso, which indicates the place and time it was painted: “marée montante 4 h Aout (18)92”[Engl. ‘incoming tide, 4 o’clock, August 1892] (fig. 8). Inscriptions of this kind are known from several of Guillaumin’s works [cf. Serret/Fabiani 1971, No. 336; Guillaumin, WRM Dep. FC 559].

Armand Guillaumin
The Seine at Saint-Palais, 1892, oil on canvas, 60.4 x 93.4 cm, WRM Dep. FC 749

Armand Guillaumin

born on 16 February 1841 in Paris,
died on 26 June 1927 in Orly, Val-de-Marne south of Paris

Brief report with complete data as downloadable pdf-file

Further illustrations:

Fig. 02

Verso with manufacturer’s and dealer’s marks

Fig. 03

Raking light

Fig. 04

Transmitted light

Fig. 05

UV fluorescence

Fig. 06

Infra-red reflectogramm

Fig. 07

Detail, signature

Fig. 08

Detail, top bar of stretcher, with inscription regarding
month, year, and time of day when picture was painted: “4h Aout 92”

Fig. 09

Detail of lower foldover, two-layer ground application,
microscopic photograph (M = 1 mm)

Fig. 10

Detail, raking light, spray, dynamic brushwork

Fig. 11

Horizon with grains of sand embedded in the paint-layer, microscopic photograph (M = 1 mm)

Fig. 12

Left-hand corner, circular impressions in the fresh paint-layer presumably resulting from commercial spacers (see above), microscopic photograph (M = 1 mm)