1858-1941 | French
Chantier rue Royale
("Construction Site at Rue Royale")
Oil on canvas
Signed "Luce" (lower right)
The struggle between nature, urban living and industry is at the center of Chantier rue Royale. Maximilien Luce is remembered as one of the most prolific Neo-Impressionist artists. A student of the scientific principles of Georges Seurat and the broad technique of Camille Pissarro, Luce is known for thought-provoking canvases, utilizing his brilliant and distinguishable Post-Impressionist technique to craft visually striking compositions.
In Chantier rue Royale, the artist masterfully renders the deep reds of metal scaffolding and cranes against a cityscape bathed in warm afternoon light. Men occupy all levels of the imposing structure, fulfilling their roles in the construction of a new building in an already densely packed city. In the lower register of the painting, Luce includes the tops of trees in the foreground, as if to invite reflection on the sheer scale of the industrial apparatus and the tension between the natural world and urban development. The 20th century brought increasing industrialization and associated growing pains, and here, Luce demonstrates not only his mastery over color and form, but his unique social perspective as well.
Luce was initially trained as a woodcarver at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs, eventually finding work with an engraver in London. He returned to Paris in 1879 to begin a four-year military service, during which he enrolled in the Académie Suisse and the studio of Carolus-Duran at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where he first studied painting. It was also during this time that he became greatly influenced by Impressionism, forging life-long friendships with masters including Camille Pissarro, Paul Signac and Georges Seurat with whom he would develop the principles of Pointillism. Luce explored landscapes, urban scenes and depictions of working people in his paintings, often imparting a level of social commentary that make his works both visually and intellectually stimulating.
Canvas: 39 1/2" high x 29" wide
Frame: 48 1/4" high x 37 1/4" wide x 2 3/4" deep
Ader Paris, 19 March 1984, lot 53
Loudmer Scp. Paris, 1 April 1990, lot 86
Winterthur, Kunstwerein Winterthur, Exposition d'art français, 1961, no. 79 (probably, titled Construction rue Royale)
Denise Bazetoux, Maximilien Luce, Catalogue de l'oeuvre peint, vol. II, Paris, 2005, no. 826, p. 211, illustrated.