Monday, June 7, 2010
Louis Welden Hawkins - Bretons Sur La Plage
signed l.r.: L WELDEN HAWKINS
oil on canvas
19 ¾ by 39 ¼ in.
Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 6,000 GBP
Louis Welden Hawkins was born at Esslingen in Germany, the son of a British naval officer and his Austrian wife, Louise Sopransi, Baroness von Welden. His childhood was spent in England, but at the age of fifteen he was sent to sea. In 1870, when he was in his early twenties, he left the Royal Navy, and settled in Paris with the intention of becoming an artist. He lived in France all his life from this time forward, and in 1895 took French nationality.
In Paris Hawkins joined the Anglo-American circle of artists many of whom were students at the Académie Julian, and in addition was one of the many young artists of different nationalities who visited Grez-sur-Loing, as students of Jules Bastien-Lepage. Early works by Hawkins such as Les Orphelins (Hôtel de Ville, Pouyatruc), of 1881, show the influence of Bastien-Lepage, with their distinctive flattened picture space and muted colours. In the later 1880s Hawkins adopted the monumental style of Puvis de Chavannes, as seen in works such as La Procession des âmes (private collection, Paris). In the 1890s Hawkins came into contact with various writers and poets associated with the nascent Symbolist movement, including Paul Adam (who was supposed to have first applied the word Symbolism to the contemporary literary movement), and Stéphane Mallarmé. In 1894-5, Hawkins was invited to exhibit at the Salon de la Rose+Croix. In addition, he worked as an illustrator for the periodical L’Oeuvre d’Art International and was known for his designs for painted masks. Hawkins’ later paintings and designs are quintessential products of the French decadence.
When in 1905 L’Oeuvre d’Art International ceased publication, Hawkins resolved to leave Paris, taking his wife Raffaela and daughter Jacqueline to live at Perros-Guirec, near Lannion on the north coast of Brittany. There he painted landscape subjects, adopting a free and fluent style and clear colours quite different to those that he had used in his earlier rustic subjects. A number of these were displayed at the Paris Salon of 1910, the last exhibition in which Hawkins was represented before his death that same year, and various works were acquired by museum collections in France (for example, Ombelle jaune which is now in the Musée du Petit-Palais, Paris).
Bretons sur la Plage, although not dated, may be identified as a work from this last stage of the artist’s career, and presumably represents the coastal landscape at Perros-Guirec. In these years, Hawkins tended towards a horizontal format and often placed buildings in the background and against the sky (as in, for example, Ombelles (private collection, France), of 1909). In Bretons sur la Plage men and women, dressed in a distinctive Breton style, are seen standing before their cottages and looking out to sea.
at 5:00 PM