Henry Moret: Grosse mer (1913)

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Henry Moret (1856-1913), Grosse mer, 1913, signed and dated ‘Henry. Moret 1913’ (lower left), oil on canvas, 28 7/8 x 36 ¼ in. , Source: Christie’s

Who Is Henry Moret?

Henry Moret (1856 – 1913) was a French Impressionist painter best known for his association with Paul Gauguin and the artist colony at Pont-Aven in Brittany and for his richly colored landscapes of coastal Brittany. After his beginning as a more classical painter, Moret’s style developed under the influence of Gauguin and the Pont-Aven artists, and his works became increasingly Impressionistic, while revealing his love of nature. Henry Moret “has been able to fuse together two fundamentally opposing styles: the Synthetism of Pont-Aven and Impressionism.”[7]

zScreenshot_2019-02-11 2017_PAR_14131_0330_000(henry_moret_grosse_mer) jpg (JPEG Image, 3200 × 2534 pixels) - Scaled (38%)
Henry Moret (1856-1913), Grosse mer (1913), signed and dated ‘Henry. Moret 1913’ (lower left), oil on canvas, 28 7/8 x 36 ¼ in. , Source: Christie’s, (detail)

In Henry Moret, aquarelles et peinture 1856–1913, Maxime Maufra comments:

“Coasts, forests, valleys, in every season

he observed them with all his senses,

reproducing them with all his spirit and sincerity.”[6]

aScreenshot_2018-11-13 2screenshot_2018-11-13-2017_par_14131_0330_000henry_moret_grosse_mer-jpg-jpeg-image-3200-c397-2534-pi[...]
Henry Moret (1856-1913), Grosse mer (1913), signed and dated ‘Henry. Moret 1913’ (lower left), oil on canvas, 28 7/8 x 36 ¼ in. , Source: Christie’s, (detail)

Understanding the Terms

I am still not entirely sure where the boundaries lie between these different movements or styles, so the rest of this post will be a short, but self-indulgent Art History break in an effort to understand the similarities and differences between:

  1. Synthetism
  2. Synthetic Impressionism
  3. Post-Impressionism

What Is Synthetism?

The style developed in Pont-Aven by Gauguin and Bernard is known as Synthetism because the style combines images to produce a final result (a synthesis) quite different from Impressionism. Synthetism is a term used by post-Impressionist artists like Paul Gauguin, Émile Bernard and Louis Anquetin to distinguish their work from Impressionism. Earlier, Synthetism has been connected to the term Cloisonnism, and later to Symbolism.[1] The term is derived from the French verb synthétiser (to synthesize or to combine so as to form a new, complex product).

Synthetism relies the following principles:

  1. the abandonment of faithful representation,
  2. the creation of a work based on the artist’s memory of the subject but reflecting his feelings while painting,
  3. the bold application of pure colour,
  4. the absence of perspective and shading,
  5. the application of Cloisonnism‘s flat forms separated by dark contours,
  6. and geometrical composition free of any unnecessary detail and trimmings.[14]

What is Synthetic Impressionism?

Synthetic Impressionism is a style of painting that combines the carefully observed color and expressive paint handling of impressionist painters with the abstraction of space and multiple exaggerated viewpoints of cubist painters.[1] The forerunners of this style include Van Gogh, Cézanne, and Chaim Soutine.[2]

hScreenshot_2018-11-13 5screenshot_2018-11-13-2017_par_14131_0330_000henry_moret_grosse_mer-jpg-jpeg-image-3200-c397-2534-pi[...]
Henry Moret (1856-1913), Grosse mer (1913), signed and dated ‘Henry. Moret 1913’ (lower left), oil on canvas, 28 7/8 x 36 ¼ in. , Source: Christie’s, (detail)

What is Post-Impressionism?

Post-Impressionism is a predominantly French art movement that developed roughly between 1886 and 1905, emerging as a reaction against Impressionists’ concern for the naturalistic depiction of light and colour. Due to its broad emphasis on abstract qualities or symbolic content, Post-Impressionism encompasses the following:

  1. Neo-Impressionism,
  2. Symbolism,
  3. Cloisonnism,
  4. Pont-Aven School, and
  5. Synthetism,
  6. later Impressionists

The Post-Impressionist movement was led by Paul Cézanne (known as father of Post-impressionism), Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Georges Seurat.[1]

In general, Post-Impressionists extended Impressionism while rejecting its limitations: they continued using vivid colours, often thick application of paint, and real-life subject matter, but were more inclined to emphasize geometric forms, distort form for expressive effect, and use unnatural or arbitrary colour.

Click for Enlarged Detail:



Christie’s, “Henry Moret, Grosse mer (1913)“, Sale 14131, Art Impressionniste et Moderne, Paris, 24 March 2017, https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/paintings/henry-moret-grosse-mer-6063687-details.aspx?from=salesummery&intobjectid=6063687&sid=0509936a-e1be-45e1-8797-19934af078f9, (accessed 13 Nov 2018).

Wikipedia contributors, “Synthetic impressionism,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Synthetic_impressionism&oldid=550612278 (accessed November 14, 2018).

Wikipedia contributors, “Henry Moret,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Henry_Moret&oldid=841741734 (accessed November 14, 2018).

Wikipedia contributors, “Synthetism,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Synthetism&oldid=815043134 (accessed November 14, 2018).

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Thanks for Reading! 🙂

The End

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Lovely , cheerful and lighthearted painting / thank you for posting, At Sunny ✨💚✨

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving week, Luda. Thanks for visiting!f 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Eclectic Contrarian says:

    Absolutely amazing! So much work and methodically awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

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