Alfred Manessier born 1911 [- 1993]
Inscribed 'Manessier 56' b.r., and 'Manessier' and '-12°' on stretcher
Oil on canvas, 45 x 57 1/2 (114.5 x 146)
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1959
Prov: With Galerie de France, Paris (purchased from the artist); Friends of the Tate Gallery
Exh: Manessier: Oeuvres Récentes, Galerie de France, Paris, June-July 1956 (no catalogue)
Lit: Ell de Wilde, Manessier 1955-1956: La Hollande (Paris 1956), repr. pl.4 in colour; Russell Warren Howe, 'Alfred Manessier - an Interview' in Apollo, LXV, 1957, p.260; J.P. Hodin, Manessier (Bath 1972), pp.67-72, repr. pl.51 in colour
Repr: Cimaise, 3rd series, Nos.7-8, 1956, p.41
Manessier visited Holland in February 1955 for the opening of his retrospective exhibition in the Museum at Eindhoven. Though his visit only lasted eight days, the snow-covered landscape and the Vermeer-like light made such an overwhelming impression on him that he spent the next year working on the theme of Holland. (For an album of colour reproductions of paintings inspired by Holland, see E. de Wilde, op. cit.).
According to Mme Myriam Prévot-Douatte of the Galerie de France: '-12° evokes the Dutch plain and its windmills at a time of intense cold under the sun' (letter of 16 December 1959).
The artist added: 'You have moreover one of the best works of this ensemble - at any rate one of those I like best ... [This picture] was not inspired by any particular place, but rather by the total impression, by the combination of lights, harmonies and forms which remained in my memory. To be precise, the relationship of the yellow and the grey was derived from the relationship of the sky (somewhat veiled by the cold) and the sun of a yellow that was quite new to me, seen from my bedroom at Eindhoven; the somewhat windmill-like forms from a road in Zeeland' (letter of 9 February 1960).
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.474-5, reproduced p.474