The Gloaming (c.1900)
Eugène Brouillard (1870-1950)
Oil on canvas; signed bottom right
In handmade frame
This painting brings to mind the final lines of A.A.Milne’s House at Pooh Corner (1928) – the fruit pastille of trying to read a children’s story without crying: ‘in that enchanted place on the top of the forest, a little boy and his bear will always be playing.’ The form of the little boy’s house is visible on the horizon and perhaps this is Brouillard recalling his own childhood imaginings of meeting a mythical friend at the old tree by the river. The just visible church steeple also feels like a nostalgic detail. Like Christopher Robin, however, the fading light and the title heartbreakingly suggest that the little boy is about to grow up.
Born in Lyon, Eugène Brouillard was a highly independent French painter whose style – at times post-impressionist, fauvist or even abstract expressionist – defied the categorisation of his time.
Physically-impaired as a child by acute coxalgia, he took to drawing as a consolatory diversion. Initially studying lace design and then trained as a draughtsman, Brouillard took up painting in earnest in the 1890s. Though inspired by the work of painters such as Corot, Puvis de Chavannes, Paul Signac and Théodore Rivière, he resisted contemporary trends preferring to discover the possibilities of the medium for himself. Exploring a range of approaches and techniques, his spontaneous use of thick brushes and a palette knife proclaimed a radical abstract sensibility. In 1903, he helped create the Salon d’Automne de Lyon and he went on to exhibit in Paris throughout the first decades of the 20th century.
Brouillard’s work has been offered at auction multiple times, the record price being 14,442 USD for Bord de Riviere sold at Aguttes, Lyon in 2011.