Description & Technical information

This is one of a group of fresh and spirited landscape oil sketches by Auguste Bonheur that have only come to light in recent years, having been found in his studio after his death and retained by his descendants. Produced during the artist’s extensive travels throughout France, notably in Brittany, the Auvergne and the Pyrénées, these works can be seen as Bonheur’s particular contribution to the 19th century French tradition of plein-air painting. As the critic Théophile Gautier noted in a review of the Salon of 1861, ‘Auguste Bonheur has dared, and it is great audacity, to unvarnish nature, to take away the smoke and the dirt, to wash off the bitumen sauce with which art ordinarily covers it, and he has painted it as he sees it...his foliage [has] the bright freshness of plants washed by the rain and dried by the sun.’

Bonheur was particularly fond of the rugged, mountainous landscapes of the Cantal in the Auvergne, to which he returned repeatedly throughout his career, and which provided the setting for many of his oil sketches and finished paintings. Similar oil sketches by Bonheur of views in the Auvergne appeared on the art market in 1993 and 1995. The small label inscribed with the location depicted and attached to the corner of the oil sketch is typical of the artist’s working practice.

Period:  1850-1900, 19th century
Origin:  France
Medium: Oil on canvas
Signature: Signed A Bonheur at the lower left. Inscribed Auvergne on a small label pasted at the lower right.

Dimensions: 13.9 x 30.8 cm (5¹/₂ x 12¹/₈ inches)
Provenance: The studio of the artist, Magny-les-Hameaux, near Versailles.

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints