Eugène Carrière french, 1849 - 1906
Portrait of his Son, Léon
c. 1885 Oil on board 6½ x 4½ in. ( 16 . 5 x 11 . 4 cm) Signed lower right
provenance: Marlboro Galleries; Christie’s New York, Tuesday, June 16 , 2009 , lot 148 , where purchased; Private Collection, New York.
Eugène Carrière was a Symbolist painter known for his monochromatic portraits and paintings of intimate family life. His works were notable for their nuanced umber tones and hazy brushwork creating the impression of the figure materializing out of, or merging into, the surface of the canvas. The misty appearance of Carrière’s work was prized by contemporaries tired of precisely detailed and realistic paintings. A critic once compared Carrière’s style to that of his colleague Auguste Rodin, writing, “Rodin paints in marble and Carrière sculpts with shadow.” By 1885 , Carrière’s palette was approaching the grisaille of his mature style. He was painting somber family portraits such as The Sick Child , 1885 (Musée d’Orsay). In this
painting of his wife comforting his son Léon, the only color is a touch of red in the flowers and the yellow gold of his son’s hair. The subdued color scheme produces an ethereal effect. This effect can be seen in our painting of the same year in which the sweet face of his son, Léon, is highlighted only with the color of his golden hair and soft rose of his lips.
Eugène Carrière, The Sick Child , 1885 , oil on canvas, 39 7 ⁄
8 x 32 in.
( 101 . 3 x 81 . 5 cm), Musée d’Orsay.
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