Paintings of 1922: Landscapes and Still Life

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Beach (c 1922), oil on canvas, 35 x 61.7 cm, Private collection. The Athenaeum.

In this the fourth and final article looking back at paintings completed a century ago in 1922, I show some landscapes painted in more modern styles, and conclude with a couple of still lifes.

Paul Signac (1863-1935), Le Sardinier, Locmalo (Les Tourelles) (Cachin 553) (summer 1922), oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm, Private collection. Wikimedia Commons.

Paul Signac spent the summer of 1922 in Brittany, from where he he painted the return of a sardine boat, in Le Sardinier, Locmalo (Les Tourelles). This was bought by the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune the following May, and sold on to a client.

Although he continued to paint some works in Divisionist or Pointillist style, by this time Signac was concentrating more on wonderfully loose watercolours.

Paul Signac (1863-1935), Le Havre with Rain Clouds (1922), black chalk and watercolour, 30.4 x 45.3 cm, Albertina, Vienna, Austria. Wikimedia Commons.

His fascination for the ports of France wasn’t confined to those of the Midi, or the more picturesque. His view of Le Havre with Rain Clouds shows this major port on the Channel coast, on the northern side of the estuary of the River Seine, in typical weather. Le Havre was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War, and had to be rebuilt after 1945.

Paul Signac (1863-1935), View of Montauban in the Rain (c 1922), black chalk and watercolour, 27.8 x 37.4 cm, Albertina, Vienna, Austria. Wikimedia Commons.

When Signac did paint away from the coast, he usually managed to find a river, as in this View of Montauban in the Rain. This is a large town in the south-west of France, to the north of Toulouse, set astride the River Tarn, and was the birthplace of JAD Ingres.

Paul Nash (1892–1946), Berkshire Downs (1922), oil on canvas, 76 x 55.5 cm, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Scotland. The Athenaeum.

Paul Nash’s autumnal view of the Berkshire Downs was probably painted when he was visiting his father in his home at Iver, in the chalk downland of Berkshire, to the north-west of London.

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Place Clichy (1922), lithograph, 48 x 64 cm, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL. The Athenaeum.

Although Pierre Bonnard had painted little in the streets of Paris for some years, at this time he was actively making lithographs such as this of the Place Clichy. Fine strokes of the crayon replace his brushwork, and the colours are predominantly earths, giving these prints a distinctive look.

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Beach (c 1922), oil on canvas, 35 x 61.7 cm, Private collection. The Athenaeum.

This pair of coastal paintings, probably made when Bonnard was staying at Arcachon in the south-west of France, stand out from his landscapes of 1922. Beach is one of his simplest and finest works of his career, with its breaking wave and two bathers.

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), The Beach (Arcachon) (c 1922), oil on canvas, 27.5 x 43.2 cm, Private collection. The Athenaeum.

Bonnard’s The Beach (Arcachon) returns when the beach is packed, with tents and awnings covering the golden sand, crowds of people and moored yachts in the distance. Beyond them is a vague line of breakers, where the bed of the Atlantic Ocean rises to form the shallows of the coast of France.

Lovis Corinth (1858–1925), Easter at Walchensee (1922), oil on canvas, 57 × 75 cm, Private collection. Wikimedia Commons.

Lovis Corinth had retreated to the family’s chalet in the Bavarian Alps, where he painted Easter at Walchensee as the winter snow was melting on the tops of the hills.

Paul Klee (1879–1940), Red Balloon (1922), oil and oil transfer drawing? on chalk-primed gauze, mounted on board, 31.7 × 31.1 cm, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY. Wikimedia Commons.

Paul Klee’s Red Balloon is one example of the more radical painting of 1922. This was made using oil paint and some sort of transfer process onto a gauze primed using chalk, like a gesso. The red balloon of the title is shown as a circular disc amid other geometrical shapes.

Finally, here are two still lifes, both painted in watercolour.

Charles Demuth (1883–1935), Flower Study (1922), watercolour and graphite, dimensions not known, Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, Hawaii. Wikimedia Commons.

Charles Demuth had been an enthusiastic painter of floral still lifes early in his career. When he developed diabetes, he returned to them as an aid to recovery, and they came to dominate his work. Reflecting his changed style in landscapes, these had developed into detailed botanical paintings, as in this Flower Study.

Lovis Corinth (1858–1925), Flower Vase on a Table (1922), watercolour, dimensions not known, Albertina, Vienna, Austria. Wikimedia Commons.

Lovis Corinth also painted some indoor watercolours. His Flower Vase on a Table has patches of pure, high-chroma colour for the flowers and the armchair at the right, and little indication of form.

It was certainly a year of eclectic paintings.