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View of the Town of Le Mans from the Bank of the River Sarthe. Oil on canvas, mounted on wood. 31.5 x 117 cm.
The painter and etcher, Alexis Vollon, was the son of the much better known painter, Antoine Vollon (1833–1900), who was responsible for his training. Alexis made a name for himself as a painter of portraits and genre scenes and participated in the annual exhibitions of the Paris Salon. While many of his works catered to the aesthetic tastes of the Belle Époque, his talent and originality as an artist are readily apparent in this atmospherically dense and subtly coloured panoramic view of the mediaeval town of Le Mans. The study does not concentrate on the town’s landmark, the imposing Cathedral of Saint-Julien du Mans begun in 1217, but instead shows a picturesque collection of very old semi-timbered houses, the roofs and chimneys of which inject rhythm into the composition and give it a special fascination. The oil study was undoubtedly taken directly from nature. The palette, which is reduced to a few earth tones, forms an atmospheric contrast with the overcast greyish-blue sky and convincingly evokes the feeling of a gloomy mediaeval town with narrow winding streets.
Provenance: Galerie Fischer-Kiener, Paris.