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Bernard Buffet (France 1928‑1999)

”Ecluse sur La Meuse”

To be sold at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale: Modern & Contemporary 18-19 November 2020

Lot 546 Bernard Buffet (France 1928‑1999). ”Ecluse sur La Meuse”. Signed and dated Bernard Buffet 62 upper left. Oil on canvas, 82 x 101 cm.

This work is recorded in the Bernard Buffet Archive at the Galerie Maurice Garnier, Paris.
A photo certificate signed by L.E. David, Galerie David et Garnier and dated Paris 5 October 1962 is included with this lot.


800.000 – 1.200.000 SEK€ 77.000 – 116.000


Galerie David et Garnier, Paris.
Galerie Hervé, Paris.
Merchant Norbert Masur (1901‑1971), Tel Aviv, acquired from the above on 20 November 1962 (the receipt is included with this lot).
Thence by descent to the present owner.

In context

Bernard Buffet’s elegant river landscape  – “Ecluse sur la Meuse”

Famous for his colourful landscapes, intriguing portraits and elegant still-lives, Bernard Buffet was a bold rejecter of abstract art. At a time when abstract art dominated the contemporary art scene, Buffet joined the anti-abstraction group L’homme Témoin and argued for the importance of figurative and representational art. Bernard Buffet excelled with his intense compositions, evoking a sense of nostalgia, fearlessness and passion. In the late 1940’s, Buffet exhibited the painting “Le Buveur” at the Jeune Peinture exhibition organised at the Galerie Drouant-David. Emmanuel David asked Buffet to sign an exclusive contract with the gallery, shared together with the famous art dealer Maurice Garnier. In Maurice Garnier, Buffet found a tenacious devotee. Beginning in 1949, yearly exhibitions were held in February at the Galerie Drouant-David, and as of 1957 at the Galerie David et Garnier, and finally at Galerie Maurice Garnier.

Belonging to his series of landscapes executed in the early 1960’s, “Ecluse sur La Meuse” shows a great example of Buffet’s recognised painterly style. The lines in this energetic composition are black, harsh and powerful, creating an almost mysterious atmosphere to this river landscape. Buffet worked with a limited range of colours such as the bright red seen in the house at the end of the river and reflecting in the boat, the dark and light nuances of green giving light to the alley of trees and tiny hints of bold yellow to enhance the nature. Even the water is painted in green, mirroring the surrounding intensely lush landscape. Arguably a magnificent colourist, Buffet manages to express the true essence of the nature by the lack of details and unrestrained brushstrokes. In many ways, his characteristic gothic and expressionist technique reflects his own elegant and individualistic personality. The river Meuse reappears in several paintings from 1962 by Bernard Buffet, who explored the beautiful landscape over again with an everlasting enthusiasm. Meuse rises in France and flows through Belgium and the Netherlands before draining into the North Sea, making it one of Europe’s major rivers. In “Ecluse sur La Meuse”, Buffet has captured one of the many sluices along the river, a motif he kept exploring from different angles. By returning to his compositions and creating series of works, he was able to investigate different themes thoroughly. The artist explained: “Painting, we do not talk about it, we do not analyse it, we feel it.”

Born in Paris on 10 July 1928, Bernard Buffet gained early critical acclaim through his recognisable stylistic manner and prolific output. At the age of 18, Buffet was nominated by Connaissance des Arts magazine as one of the top ten post-war artists and the same year he exhibited his first painting, a self-portrait, at the Galerie Beaux-Arts in Paris. His first retrospective exhibition was held in 1958 at the Galerie Charpentier and throughout his extensive career, Buffet participated in numerous important solo and group exhibitions. Most of Buffet’s oeuvre features portraits, still-lives, landscapes and historical subjects, showing highly stylised figures painted with expressive black lines and a vivid colour palette. His earlier work represents the emotional state of the post-war generation and he was extremely prolific during his lifetime, painting over 8.000 works. Buffet has been quoted stating: “I believe in working hard. Painting is serious. A vice, not a play thing.” Over the years, his works have remained consistently popular and are held in some of the most notable museums around the world, including Tate Modern in London, Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Bernard Buffet Museum in Japan. During his lifetime he was also awarded several prestigious honours, such as being made an Officer of the Légion d’Honneur in 1973 and being inducted to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1974, the institution he studied at as a young artist.

“Ecluse sur La Meuse” offers an exciting opportunity to acquire a work from Buffet’s 1960’s period, showing a stunning example of Bernard Buffet’s own form of bold expressionism. This work has never before been offered for sale, and has remained within the same private Swedish collection ever since it was acquired at Galerie Hervé, Paris in 1962.

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