1841 Paris - 1919
Oil on canvas, 36 x 58 cm
Signed "A l'ami Hennique affectueux souvenir Roll"
Alfred Philippe Roll was a French naturalistic painter (ill.1). 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 on. 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 seaside was painted between 1880-90 during one of the artist's stays at the coast 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 inconsistency of the sea movement (ill.2). His energetic handwriting can be also found in portraits by the artist which echoes Manet.
His speciality was broad brushwork and generous thick application of paint, evoking the art of Gustave Courbet. As a great admirer of the burgundy master, he was inspired by his technique to paint with the palette knife to achieve the texture of the waves (ill.3 and ill.4.).
Our painting is dedicated to Léon Hennique, a naturalistic novelist and intimate of Emile Zola. The critiques have often associated the paintings of Roll with the novels of Zola. Their common work about miners shows their attention for similar social subjects. This is also why he was by Louis Vauxelles considered as the "Zola of the Paintbrush".
Ill.1: Alfred Roll, Selfportrait, 1885, canvas, Bordeau, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Ill.2. Alfred Roll, The old Quarryman, Bordeaux, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Ill.3 Alfred Roll, Seaside, private Collection
Ill.4 Gustave Courbet, The Wave , Paris, Musée d'Orsay