The Illusion of the American Frontier
From 03 November 2015 to 07 February 2016
Early booking is recommended
The world of work grabbed Luce's attention very early on and for a long time. He was the son of a cartwright, later employed in the railways. He spent his youth surrounded by the bustle and noise of the streets in the popular borough of La Gaité, where he was struck by the life of the workers, hard labour and the day to day battle for subsistence.
Since then, he was naturally inclined to represent the workers, the factories, the dockers, the masons, etc... He showed the swarming crowds and the blackness of the northern cities, the ports, the blast furnaces [...]
But, although Luce always liked the lives of the workers, and enjoyed lingering on the representation of labour and of work in the shipyards, as soon as he was away from the cities, he also knew how to abandon himself happily to the emotion he felt before nature.
In 1906, Luce and his family spent their holidays in Bessy-sur-Cure, in the charming region of Yonne.
They went back there for three consecutive summers, and Luce painted beautiful landscapes in what had become his own manner, free of the theoretical aspect of Divisionism, while becoming increasingly attached to the construction of the subject and the rendering of light.
After showing us the blast furnaces of Charleroi, life and work in the streets of Paris and on the river banks, London in the mist and the sunny French Midi, Luce now enjoyed painting widely open and brightly lit horizons, sunny paths and green countryside.
In what seems like an attempt to get away from the depressing views of factories, Luce painted quiet landscapes of Bourgogne, rivers with clear water, and verges along which it is pleasant to stroll. In this region of the Cure river, he found everything he loved and was appeased by.
In a supplement to the Gazette des Beaux Arts of 23 February 1907, published on the occasion of the exhibition in Bernheim's gallery, Paul Jamot wrote: "Luce adores spring and summer, the sweetness of the first warm days, the sumptuous foliage of July, the peace of the summer sunsets, the light clouds which can be seen through the branches in bloom as they cross the sky, [...] the last rays of light of the day and of the season. He likes the trees reflected in the clear water of the river, the emerald meadows, the stone bridges whose arches are like windows open onto the landscape, the willows with gnarled trunks and tender leaves, the peaceful villages appearing behind an opening in the trees, the poplars swaying in the breeze, the vast plains, the large roads [...]."
In Burgundy Luce shows us that besides being the powerful painter of factories and blast furnaces, he has a great sensitivity that makes him appreciate the ordinary things of life.
Luce found the subject of this Shaded Path, painted in 1905, near Bessy. The landscapes representing the Cure are probably the most popular; in them Luce expresses all his emotion as well as all his talent.
Contemplating this shadowed path, we feel at the same time the freshness of the shade of the trees under which it is pleasant to rest and the heat of the summer sun filtering through the branches and sprinkling with light the path along which two girls are strolling.
In The Road to Vermenton of 1906, Luce shows us an open space and the quietness of a rest on the roadside, in the shade of large trees. Here we find again the diagonal construction Luce was fond of, which gives the landscape its sense of perspective, in which he sets a few houses typical of the region. The hillside in the background gives depth to the painting.