Roger Fry studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge before turning to art in the late 1880s. He was Curator of Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for a brief period before returning to London and a career as writer, critic and painter. His defence of Cézanne and Gauguin in 1908 in 'The Burlington Magazine', followed by the Post-Impressionist exhibitions which he organized in London in 1910 and 1912, established his reputation as a proselytizer for modern (French) art, although his intellectual and aesthetic enthusiasms were broad, and his open- mindedness led him to constant reviews of his own critical position. Chauvigny is a market town east of Poitiers in central France, and was among the places visited by Roger Fry in October 1911 when, after his visit to Paris to see the Salon d’Automne, he joined Clive Bell and Duncan Grant on a bicycle tour of the region to explore Romanesque churches. This painting was made after his return to London, and is based on one of the small oil studies made during the tour. It looks from the river towards the old part of the town which is situated on a precipitous rock spur, the skyline dominated by the Church of St Pierre and the Donjon de Gouzon. The painting is schematic in its design. The foreground is dominated by the sharply converging lines of the bridge across to the rising ground, articulated by a sequence of horizontal ranks, punctuated by sharp diagonals. The buildings and trees are simplified and reduced to their most elementary forms, expressed in tones of a restricted colour range. While this ordered arrangement owes much to Cézanne, it is also reminiscent of the townscapes of the quattrocento ‘primitives’ of early Italian painting.
Where to see this painting?
The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds
Parkinson Building, University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, LS2 9JT
If you are planning a visit to see this painting, check with the collection first. Paintings can be moved at short notice.