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Campagne Provençale (probablement Villeneuve-lès-Avignon) / Provencal Countryside (probably Villeneuve-lès-Avignon)



Abel Lauvray (1870-1959)
Campagne Provençale (probablement Villeneuve-lès-Avignon) / Provencal Countryside (probably Villeneuve-lès-Avignon)
oil on cardboard on canvas
AGLC 318 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

Abel Lauvray occupies a modest, yet original  place amongst the descendants of Impressionism. His parents, from a prosperous family of  Norman notaries, had a house in Vétheuil, and his father commissioned Claude Monet (1840-1926), at one of the most difficult times of the painter’s life, to paint a portrait (1880; private collection) of  his son André, Abel’s younger brother. These contacts no doubt came in useful later on, when Abel Lauvray began painting seriously. Not needing to sell his paintings to survive, he sent his work on a regular basis to the Paris Salon, the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (1898-1908) and the Salon des Indépendants (in 1906, and 1912-1939). In spite of a fire that destroyed a part of his studio in Mantes in 1940, upon his death Lauvray left many hundreds of paintings, zealously preserved by his wife and sister, arousing the interest and curiosity of the  public. This abundance of works included numerous landscapes inspired by the Seine at Vétheuil and its environs, as well as landscapes of Touraine and of the Villeneuve-lès-Avignon region. Lauvray also painted in Italy and Greece.     

The two landscapes in the A. G. Leventis Collection belong to a series painted in the Midi; the larger one is probably a view of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, while the smaller one depicts the beautiful village of Moustiers Sainte-Marie in Provence, famous  for its faience and recognisable by the rocky gorge  in the background, a motif which recurs in other compositions by Lauvray. Both paintings attest to Lauvray’s dependence on Impressionism, which  led him to focus on the subject and a direct description  from nature. Their dense method of execution,  the result of a system of energetic brushstrokes, is typical of the painter and immediately identifiable, thanks to his somewhat muted palette and blunted  forms. 

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About the artist

From a wealthy Norman family, he is perhaps best known for his lifelong friendship with Claude Monet; it was certainly Monet’s influence that helped him to become a talented landscape painter in an Impressionist style. His works are easily recognisable from his use of vigorous brushwork, subdued colours and dull-edged forms. Although he was financially independent, he worked prolifically and exhibited regularly.

More paintings of the artist
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