Oil on canvas, 36 x 58 cm
signed "A l'ami Hennique affectueux souvenir Roll"
Alfred Philippe Roll was a French naturalistic painter. He studied at the school of Beaux-Arts of Paris, where he was a pupil of Henri Joseph Harpignies, Léon Bonnat, Jean-Léon Gérôme and Charles-François Daubigny. In 1869, he painted his first landscapes and exhibited at the Salon from 1870 onwards. In 1877 he received a golden medal for the La Fête de Silène.His career was crowned with success during the Third Republic. He received several public assignments and was appointed chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur in 1883 and became president of the National Society of Fine-Arts in 1905.This seascape was painted between 1880 and 1890 during one of the artist’s stays at the coasts of Normandy and Brittany.
Influenced by the Impressionists who favored to paint in “plein air” at the coast, Roll was interested in the variations of sunlight, the atmospheric changes and a representation of the inconsistencies of the movement of the sea. His energetic brushwork can be also found in his portraits which echo Manet.
His specialty was broad brushwork and generous thick application of paint, evoking the paintings of Gustave Courbet. As a great admirer of the burgundy master, he was inspired by his technique of painting with a palette knife to achieve the texture of the waves. This painting is dedicated to Léon Hennique, a naturalistic novelist and intimate of Emile Zola. Critics have often associated Roll’s paintings with Zola’s novels. Their common interest miners as subject matter, shows their fascination for similar social subjects. This is also why he was considered by Louis Vauxelles to be the “Zola of the Paintbrush”.