"Lavandiére au bord de l'Oise" [A Woman Washing Clothes on the Edge of the Oise]
Oil on canvas | signed "Daubigny" lower left | circa 1865-1875
Item # 111JGP27A
This particular composition on the edge of the Oise was a favorite of Daubigny's, a cleverly balanced image that divides the scene primarily into thirds, then divides it again into a nearly perfect half using the curve of the river and the distinctive tree piercing the horizon to balance the eye. He painted many variations of this scene between 1865 and 1877. Several of these include women washing clothing by the edge of the water [Hellebranth & Hellebranth, cat. nos. 59 & 63], while the present example has the same woman seated on the bank preparing her clothing. Others include cows along the water's edge [Hellebranth & Hellebranth, cat. no. 64], one has a cow in the place of the woman in the present example [Hellebranth, cat. no. 422] and one has cows along the water's edge and a seated figure on the embankment where the woman sits in the present example [Hellebranth & Hellebranth, cat. no. 65]. Most of these images are captured from the same vantage point with the same small town visible in the distance and the composition is particularly distinctive with the singular tree that breaks the horizon as a centermost focal point.
This example is particularly interesting as it appears to have started out as a different composition - when our conservator was cleaning some overpaint on the forest immediately above the seated woman, an image of a woman began to appear in the trees. A picture of this is included in the gallery of images and presents as a side profile of a young Victorian woman. Our conservator carefully sealed that image and carefully reproduced the foliage to return the scene to its original content, but it is a fascinating companion hidden beneath the layers.
A very fine example for its high-chroma vibrant color and wonderful impressionistic rendering of the foliage and waters. The work is signed lower left in his typical script "Daubigny".
Born in Paris on February 15th, 1817, Daubigny would continue to reside in the city throughout his life until his death in 1878. He earned his living as a young man working as an illustrator, but starting in 1838 he began to exhibit at Salon and continued thereafter, receiving in 1848 his first recognition with a second-class medal for his painting of La Vallée du Cousin près d'Avallon. His career began to take on more momentum when Napoleon III purchased his painting of L'Etang de Gylieu près Optevoz and thereafter he experienced a serious shift in the recognition of his work both in France and abroad. Ultimately it would lead him to be recognized as one of the most famous painters of France.
Working chiefly in the plein-air method, Daubigny's work was distinctive from his many studio-focused peers. A development on the Barbizon painters and an eventual bridge between the Barbizon painters and the Impressionists, Daubigny was obsessed with the nuance of light and the unusual play of light on color. As much of his work was painted in the fields and on the river banks, he faced criticism for the "unfinished" quality of much of his work, the absence of refinement that takes place in the quiet confines of the studio. But Daubigny embraced this methodology, going as far as outfitting a boat as a moving studio in the same way that Claude Monet eventually would also do - this allowed him to observe the banks from a different vantage and feel the shimmering quality of light when surrounded by waters. In 1864, he took the bold move of exhibiting at Salon a large and important painting titled Vue de Villerville which now hangs in The Hague.
It becomes apparent when studying his ouvre that despite being chiefly a plein-air painter, the repeated replications of his paintings evidence extensive studio work. While Daubigny traveled extensively during the warmer months, he no doubt painted from sketches and prior paintings to satisfy the enormous demand for his work. As is discussed in the cataloging of the present example, the exact same composition and view were painted from the same vantage point, these often dated with many years between the exact same paintings.
Artist Listings & Bibliography:
- Charles-François Daubigny: 1817-1878, Hellebranth, 1976, cat. nos. 174, 175, 176
- Charles-François Daubigny: 1817-1878 Supplément, Hellebranth & Hellebranth, 1996, cat. nos. 59, 64, 65; similar cat. nos. 38, 39, 40, 48
Measurements: 13" H x 19" W [canvas]; 18" H x 24" W [frame]
Wax lining and contemporary stretchers in excellent condition; our conservator cleaned the painting, removing any unnecessary overpaint from prior conservation, surface grime and old varnish, then executed all necessary inpainting and sealed in traditional damar varnish. Under UV, all inpainting is visible (see images): touchups along the right edge of the painting and throughout the foliage on the right hand portion of the scene; strokes of old overpaint in the sky (most do not flare but present as slightly altered strokes when viewed under UV, some present with light flaring and some present under UV with a grayish hue); minor touchups along extreme left edge where frame rubs; spots of touchup throughout the forest on left side of the bank; a few spots of overpaint in the water, mostly isolated to areas of reflection; signature presents with no touchups anywhere near the signature; overpaint to the field in lower right corner: the foliage immediately above the seated woman is painted over an earlier and larger image of a young woman that presumably was started before the canvas switched over to be a view of the Oise (see image by our conservator showing the larger woman revealed under the overpainted foliage before she matched the earlier overpaint). Light craquelure throughout. Housed in a contemporary frame with minor wear to gilding.