Big Clouds

 
Artist
Creation date
Materials
oil on canvas
Dimensions
19-1/2 x 23-1/2 in. (canvas) 27-3/8 x 31-1/2 x 1-11/16 in. (framed)
Credit line
The Holliday Collection
Accession number
79.287
Collection
Not Currently On View

This seascape was painted by Belgium's foremost Neo-Impressionist painter during the period of his greatest commitment to the style. In this highly simplified composition, Van Rysselberghe restricted himself to the interplay of a few shapes and colors. He contrasted the cloud forms with the sharp lines of the shore and horizon, and confined his palette to two pairs of basic Neo-Impressionist harmonies: yellow and violet, orange and blue. Around the glowing image is a dark contrasting border of the type pioneered by Seurat.

Exemplifying Van Rysselberghe's ability to use color and structure for expressive purposes, the painting summons a contemplative mood.

(Wildenstein & Co., New York) by 1961;{1} (Charles Lock Galleries, New York) in 1962;{2} Hammer Galleries, New York) in 1962;{3} acquired by W.J. Holliday [1895-1977], Indianapolis, in 1962; bequeathed to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1979 (79.287).

{1}A label on the stretcher indicates that the painting was loaned by Wildenstein to the 1961 exhibition Painters by the Sea shown in several California museums. That the painting’s early provenance probably includes French-speaking Europe can be gleaned from an inscription on the stretch bar reading “Gros nuages.” The painting has sometimes been titled “Christiana Fjord, Gros Nuages” but as Ronald Feltkamp records in Théo van Rysselberghe, 1862-1926 (with catalogue raisonné), Brussels, 2003, cat. no. 1893-005, the location is likely to be Cadzand, Holland.
{2}As recorded in Ellen Wardwell Lee, The Aura of Neo-Impressionism: The W.J. Holliday Collection, Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1983, pp. 58-9.
{3}See Hammer Galleries, New York, 1962, Seurat and his Friends, October-November, no. 92.
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