Joyful effects of color

Henri Manguin painted Le Rocher, now titled La Naïade, Cavalière, in 1906 in Cavalière-sur-Mer, a small coastal town between Toulon and Saint Tropez in the south of France. He had become familiar with the area through the painter Paul Signac, whom he met in 1905. Manguin made regular visits to Saint Tropez, painting the town and the surrounding area, as well as a series of nudes for which his wife Jeanne often posed. La Naïade, Cavalière is typical of his Fauvist works—charming and intimate compositions that emphasized joyful effects of color.

To the Armory Show

The French dealer Émile Druet lent three works by Manguin to the Armory Show’s New York venue: Le Rocher, Baigneuse (location unknown), and La Toilette (1907, location unknown). The Fauvist paintings that were exhibited there shocked and challenged the public and the critics. Though Manguin’s work was not singled out for specific discussion in the press, it helped to demonstrate the complete range of avant-garde painting that was being produced in Europe at the time.

Henri Manguin (French, 1874–1949)

The French painter Henri Manguin studied under the Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris beginning in 1894. There he befriended fellow students Albert Marquet, Henri Matisse, Jean Puy, and Georges Rouault, who were among the artists to be dubbed the Fauves when they exhibited together at the 1905 Salon d’Automne. Manguin had exhibited for the first time at the Salon des Indépendents in 1902, and in 1905 became secretary of the Salon d’Automne, where he would exhibit regularly throughout his life. [1]

Manguin’s Fauvist canvases feature the vivid colors (often applied unmixed from commercially produced tubes of paint in broad flat areas), conspicuously broken brushwork, spontaneous execution, and bold sense of surface design that characterize the style. But his work was considerably less revolutionary than that of Matisse or Maurice de Vlaminck, and he did not achieve the level of critical success of many of his other colleagues. Rather than painting aggressive or daring subjects, he mainly created charming and intimate compositions that emphasized joyful effects of color.

[1] For a biography of the artist, see Henri Manguin, exh. cat. (Saint Tropez: L’Annonciade, Musée de Saint-Tropez, 2011).

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