Contemporary, Modern Art and Old Masters

Auction 179 - 15 May 2021

Contemporary, Modern Art and Old Masters Lot 91

Emile Claus (Belgium / 1849 - 1924)
The quay along the Thames in the rain, London (1918)


€ 80 000 - 120 000

"Retrospectieve Emile Claus" PMMK, Ostend 1997, cat. nr. 146, p. 216 ill.
coll. Dr. Van der Stricht, Antwerp


In the period 1916-1919, Emile Claus's artistic activities took off during his stay in London. A brand new artist flourished on the banks of the River Thames, who from then on came to appreciate the city's appeal. Before, he had a special preference for the countryside, the River Lys and impressions of nature.

"He looks down from his studio high above the Thames, the changing sight of the river, and sees it all with the same joyful eyes as with which he saw his meadows and fields and the Lys at his doorstep in Astene." (Leo Van Puyvelde 1917).

In London, Claus moved into a tower studio overlooking the Thames. He engaged in an intimate relationship with the river, subjecting it to intensive research of light and atmosphere. Claus got to know her different aspects, which constantly changed under the sun, the fog and the clouds. It was a never-ending atmospheric spectacle unfolding before him. This encouraged him to change his technique with brush and paint, more subtle and more sensitive to strokes and nuances.

Claus manages to create a masterly impression of the hustle and bustle on the banks of the Thames. Cyclists and passers-by venture through the typical English weather, defying wind and rain. Their silhouettes, like those of the trees and boats, disappear under a veil of drizzle. Their shadows are reflected by the wet surface. Plumes of smoke dance on the wind in the foreground. It is the suggestion of atmospheric conditions, not their literal representation, that makes this a wonderful painting. Only a hint of bright green and yellow tones balance the color palette.

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