Big Clouds

Théo van Rysselberghe (Belgian, 1862-1926)

Currently on View in H209
Image Licensing

  • In this highly simplified composition, the artist limited himself to the interplay of a few shapes and colors. He contrasted the cloud forms with the straight lines of the shore and horizon and confined his color scheme to pairs of harmonies favored by the Neo-Impressionists: yellow and violet, orange and blue.
  • This image of a lone boat on a tranquil sea exemplifies the contemplative, meditative qualities of many Neo-Impressionist paintings.
  • Van Rysselberghe, Belgium’s foremost Neo-Impressionist, adopted Seurat’s practice of painting a contrasting border at the edge of the canvas. The frame is a reproduction made at the IMA in an attempt to imitate the artist’s original frame, now lost.

(Wildenstein & Co., New York, New York) by 1961; {1} (Charles Lock Galleries, New York, New York) in 1962; {2} Hammer Galleries, New York, New York) in 1962; {3} acquired by W. J. Holliday [1895-1977], Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1962; bequeathed to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1979 (79.287).

{1} A label on the stretcher indicates that the painting was loaned by Wildenstein to the 1961 exhibition Painters by the Sea shown in several California museums. That the painting’s early provenance probably includes French-speaking Europe can be gleaned from an inscription on the stretch bar reading “Gros nuages.” The painting has sometimes been titled “Christiana Fjord, Gros Nuages” but as Ronald Feltkamp records in Théo van Rysselberghe, 1862-1926 (with catalogue raisonné), Brussels, 2003, cat. no. 1893-005, the location is likely to be Cadzand, Holland.
{2} As recorded in Ellen Wardwell Lee, The Aura of Neo-Impressionism: The W.J. Holliday Collection, Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1983, pp. 58-9.
{3} See Hammer Galleries, New York, 1962, Seurat and his Friends, October-November, no. 92.

Object Information

Théo van Rysselberghe (Belgian, 1862-1926)
creation date
oil on canvas
19-1/2 x 23-1/2 in. (canvas)
27-3/8 x 31-1/2 x 1-11/16 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
The Holliday Collection
Public Domain
European Painting and Sculpture 1800-1945

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