Two Breton Women under an Apple Tree in Flower

Paul Sérusier

Dos bretonas bajo un manzano en flor

Sérusier, Paul

París, 1864 - Morlaix, 1927

Two Breton Women under an Apple Tree in Flower, 1892

© Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza

Signed lower right: ''PSér''.
Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on loan to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid.

Oil on canvas

73,5 x 60,5 cm

CTB.1998.45

Artwork history

  • Paul Ranson,  acquired from the artist, París

  • Michel Ranson, París

  • Sotheby’s Auctions, London, lot 45, November  29,  1988

  • Private Collection

  • Sotheby’s Auctions, New York, lot 265,  November 17-18, 1998

  • Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

1999

Do impresionismo ó fauvismo: A pintura do cambio de século en París. Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Santiago de Compostela, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, n. 28, p. 88

1999 - 2000

Del impresionismo a la vanguardia en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Barcelona, Centre Cultural Caixa Catalunya, p. 120

2000

Del impresionismo a la vanguardia en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, México, DF, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, . no figuró en el catálogo

2000

Del post-impresionismo a las vanguardias. Pintura de comienzos del siglo XX en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Valencia, IVAM Centre Julio González, n. 10, p. 46

2000 - 2001

La Révolte de la couleur. De l'impressionnisme aux Avant-gardes. Chefs-d'oeuvre de la Collection Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bruselas, Musée d'Ixelles, n. 20, p. 66

2002

Il trionfo del colore. Collezione Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, Kandinsky, Roma, Palazzo Ruspoli, p. 166

2011

La tradición moderna en la Colección Carmen Thyssen. Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Miró, Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, p. 78, lám. p. 79

2018 - 2019

Femina Feminae. Muses and the collector. From Piazetta to Delaunay. Museu Carmen Thyssen Andorra. p. 36-37 y p. 118-119.

  • -Guicheteau, M.: Paul Sérusier. París, 1976, n. 30.

  • -Boyle-Turner, C.: Paul Sérusier. Ann Arbor (MI), 1983, p. 77, fig. 28.

  • -Do impresionismo ó fauvismo: A pintura do cambio de século en París. Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Santiago de Compostela, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, 1999, n. 28, p. 88.

  • -Del impresionismo a la vanguardia en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Barcelona, Centre Cultural Caixa Catalunya, 1999, p. 120.

  • -Del post-impresionismo a las vanguardias. Pintura de comienzos del siglo XX en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Valencia, IVAM Centre Julio González, 2000, n. 10, p. 46.

  • -La Révolte de la couleur. De l’impressionnisme aux Avant-gardes. Chefs-d’oeuvre de la Collection Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bruselas, Musée d’Ixelles, 2000, n. 20, p. 66.

  • -Il trionfo del colore. Collezione Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, Kandinsky, Roma, Palazzo Ruspoli, 2002, p. 166.

  • -Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Arnaldo, Javier (ed.). 2 vols. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2004, vol. 2, p. 104, lám. p. 105 [ Sheet by Guillermo Solana]

  • -La tradición moderna en la Colección Carmen Thyssen. Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Miró, Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, 2011, p. 78, lám. p. 79 (Exhib. Cat.).

  • -Virginie Foutel: Sérusier. Un prophète, de Paris à Châteauneuf-du-Faou. Loperec, Locus Solus, 2014, cit. p. 84, lám. p. 86.

  • – Femina Feminae. Muses and the collector. From Piazetta to Delaunay. Museu Carmen Thyssen Andorra. [Exhib. Cat. Museu Carmen Thyssen Andorra], 2018. P. 36-37 y p. 118-119 [Sheet by Guillermo Solana]

Expert report

In the summer of 1888, the young Sérusier visited the village of Pont-Aven in Brittany. There he met Gauguin, the leader of a small group of artists, and approached him to ask his advice. In an area of woodland close to Pont-Aven, Sérusier painted a small landscape on the lid of a cigar box, following Gauguin’s instructions: “How do you see that tree? […] Is it green? Then use green, the most beautiful green in your palette. And that shadow: it’s really rather blue? Don’t be afraid to paint it as blue as possible.” Back in Paris, Sérusier showed his friends at the Académie Julian the almost abstract landscape, The Talisman, painted with pure colours straight out of the tube, with scarcely any mixture of white. He thus revealed to them his new theory of the painting as a “flat surface covered with colours assembled in a certain order.” This revelation was to give rise to the Nabis group of painters, whose members included Denis, Bonnard, Vuillard and Ranson. Throughout the 1890s, Sérusier enjoyed great prestige among the Nabis as an intellectual and philosopher; it was said that he knew not only Latin but also Arabic and Hebrew, that he read the Neo-Platonic philosopher Plotinus, that he was well-versed in theosophy and in Catholic theology, and more.

At the same time, and following Gauguin’s departure for the South Seas in 1891, Sérusier remained in contact with the Pont-Aven group during his long stays in Brittany. He considered this region his true spiritual home and celebrated it fully in his work. In Sérusier’s painting, as in that of Gauguin and Émile Bernard before him, male figures scarcely appear: Breton women are the dominant theme, with their picturesque traditional costumes. In pairs or larger groupings, absorbed in contemplative attitude, these “primitive” women represent a silent communion with nature, inaccessible to the “civilised” male onlooker. In the painting shown here, the two Breton women appear intimately linked to the tree, as if participating in its flowering.

Sérusier’s paintings from the period of 1889-95 are the very quintessence of the flat, simplified, decorative style of Pont-Aven, with their areas of colour extending between black outlines. The contrast between the dark branches and the pink flowers clearly reflects the influence of Japanese woodcuts. As Caroline Boyle-Turner has remarked, this painting illustrates two of Sérusier’s principal characteristics during that period: his passion for Japanese woodcuts, and his fascination with the frescoes of the Italian Primitives. What attracted him to the Japanese woodcuts was their flatness, their linear arabesques, their asymmetric composition and reduced palette. The Italian frescoes, by contrast, he admired for their static and majestic figures and their shallow space. Sérusier believed in the primacy of large-scale mural painting, and he conceived his own paintings as “decorations.”

Guillermo Solana