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Winter Landscape at Sunset. Oil on canvas. 18.5 x 24 cm. Signed: “AugusteR”.
The outstanding features of this intimate, intensely atmospheric landscape study are its unorthodox, spontaneous execution and the delicacy of the colouration. The artist has used broad, sweeping strokes of the brush to apply the colours, which have an almost relief-like quality here and there. Ravier has used the handle of his brush to insert deep lines into the paint in the foreground, thereby producing an intriguing surface texture. Everything radiates the atmosphere of a deserted, gloomy winter afternoon in the countryside. The sun is sinking in a yellowish-orange glow and a bare willow tree with its rigid projecting branches injects an element of eeriness into the scene.
The landscape painter, François Auguste Ravier, was a self-taught artist. Influenced in his work by Turner and Corot, he honed his artistic skills in Rome from 1844 to 1848. After 1867 he lived and worked in the little town of Morestel in the region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, where he might have made this unconventional landscape study. Two stylistically very comparable works are to be found in the exhibition catalogue Color, Line, Light: French Drawings, Watercolours and Pastels from Delacroix to Signac, edited by M. Morgan Grasselli, Andrew Robinson, National Gallery, Washington 2012, nos. 9 and 10.