Breton Women with Seaweed

Creation date
oil on canvas
Mark Descriptions
signed L.L.: Emile Bernard
31-7/8 x 25-13/16 in.
Credit line
Samuel Josefowitz Collection of the School of Pont-Aven, through the generosity of Lilly Endowment Inc., the Josefowitz Family, Mr. and Mrs. James M. Cornelius, Mr. and Mrs. Leonard J. Betley, Lori and Dan Efroymson, and other Friends of the Museum
Accession number
Currently On View In
Jane H. Fortune Gallery -

In this enigmatic scene, four women occupy a stark landscape. The red form looming behind them is probably a mound of seaweed, gathered by the Bretons for fertilizer.

The interlocking shapes bound by dark borders exemplify Cloisonism, a style Bernard developed in the mid-1880s, inspired by the outlines of cloisonné enamel or stained glass.

The canvas may be unfinished, but its emphasis on pure form and pattern approaches the fully abstract work of the next generation.

Estate of the artist; to Elizabeth Bernard Altarriba, daughter of the artist, Paris;{1} purchased from her in 1959 by Samuel Josefowitz;{2} acquired as a partial gift, partial purchase by the IMA in 1998 (1998.173).

{1} Elizabeth Bernard, or Mrs. Clément Altarriba, verified her ownership of this painting in a signed statement on the verso of a photographic reproduction: "Toile inachevée d'Emile Bernard, Provient de la collection de Madame Altarriba, Elizabeth Bernard, fille d'Emile Bernard." Her husband, Clément Altarriba, owned a gallery in Paris in the mid 1940s.
{2} See Josefowitz inventory card, copy in IMA Provenance file (1998.173).
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