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Vue d’Alger depuis Riant, 1940-1941

oil on isorel

The Vue d’Alger depuis Riant (Vew from Algiers from Riant) was painted about six years before Marquet's death. He was in Algiers, having fled the war and the German invasion. This painting is reminiscent of the characteristic Marquet's bird’s eye views landscapes, as he so loved to paint from his studio window. Here, however, Marquet painted this canvas from the Mont-Riant Park in Algiers (now Jardin de Beyrouth). He painted several views from this location between 1940 and 1941 and this work is part of the series he realized. The strength of this landscape comes from Marquet's use of the repulsive foreground, which he employs to emphasize his central motif. Two trees, with black trunks, frame the composition and guide the viewer's gaze to the center of the canvas, a procedure well known to landscape artists. But contrary to what one might expect, the central motif is neither the city nor its port, but a tree. More precisely, the foliage of a tree in the park. In the background, the city remains discernible. Marquet reverses the traditional composition of the urban landscape, in which natural elements frame a corner of the city. Here, nature frames nature. The background, however, is a reminder of the artificial aspect of this park, which is in the city and is not a wild forest. It is indeed a corner of nature domesticated by man. Marquet's style in this painting moves away from Fauvism and is more reminiscent of an Impressionist style. The touch is lively and spontaneous, and although it is an oil painting, the city seems almost to be painted in watercolor. We find here Marquet's Cézanne-like manner, recalling among others Le Mont Sainte-Victoire au grand pin painted in 1887. But if the colors Marquet uses are close to Cézanne's palette, his way of treating them differs. His touch is less pencil-like and more impasto, the lines of composition are less strict. Marquet is inspired but does not copy. As such, this work is quite singular in many ways and represents Marquet's style quite well.

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