Roderic O’Conor

Yellow Landscape


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Roderic O’Conor 1860–1940
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 676 × 918 mm
frame: 930 × 1168 × 105 mm
Presented by Mr and Mrs Barnett Shine through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1977

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This landscape was painted at Pont-Aven, a fishing village on the south coast of Brittany which attracted many painters. O'Conor, who was born in Ireland, went to France in 1883 and spent short periods at Pont-Aven where he met Gauguin. In the early 1890s O'Conor was greatly influenced by Van Gogh, who had died in 1890. The predominance of yellow, and the impastoed texture of this painting, particularly recall the work of the Dutch painter. A distinctive characteristic of O'Conor's work was the use of stripes of contrasting colours to create the sensation of strong light.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry


Inscribed ‘O'Conor 92’ b.l.
Oil on canvas, 26 5/8 × 36 1/8 (67.7 × 91.7)
Presented by Mr and Mrs Barnett Shine through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1977
Prov: Purchased by Roland, Browse and Delbanco at the sale of the Atelier O'Conor, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 7 February 1956; there was no detailed inventory, the works being sold in bundles; Jocelyn Walker, 1956; Mr and Mrs Barnett Shine 1971
Exh: Two Masters of Colour: Matthew Smith and Roderic O'Conor, Roland, Browse and Delbanco, April 1956 (35, repr.); Gauguin and the Pont-Aven Group, Tate Gallery, January–February 1966 (296, repr.); Roderic O'Conor: A Selection of his best Work, Roland, Browse and Delbanco, June–July 1971 (12, repr.); Our Twenty Years in retrospect: Loan Exhibition from Museums and private collections, Roland, Browse and Delbanco, June–July 1977 (38, repr.)
Lit: Denys Sutton, ‘Roderic O'Conor. Little-known member of the Pont Aven Circle’, Studio, CLX, 1960, p.168
Repr: Wladiyslawa Jaworska, Gauguin and the Pont-Aven School, London 1972, p.221 (in colour)

O'Conor spent much of his time in Pont-Aven in Brittany from about 1892 until the early 1900s. Denys Sutton (op. cit., p.193) suggested that the juxtaposition of pure colour in ‘Yellow Landscape, Pont-Aven’, ‘Still Life with Bottles’ (Tate Gallery, T00133) and ‘The Glade’ (Museum of Modern Art, New York), all of 1892 demonstrates ‘that to some extent he was influenced by the ideas current at Pont-Aven which had originated with Bernard and Gauguin’.

Gauguin himself was in Tahiti in 1892 and O'Conor probably did not meet him until after his return in the following year, but he was almost certainly already in touch with Angrand and other members of Gauguin's circle. He is also known to have met van Gogh at least once, and this picture, with its strongly rhythmical forms, seems to show the influence of van Gogh's late works of 1889–90.

The title ‘Yellow Landscape, Pont-Aven’ was only given to this work in 1956, but the identification as a view of Pont-Aven is surely correct. It can be compared, for instance, with a photograph of Pont-Aven reproduced in Gauguin: sa Vie, son Oeuvre by Georges Wildenstein and others (Paris 1958), p.94. There is a suggestion of a thin spire on the building on the extreme left of the Tate picture, similar to that on the church at Pont-Aven.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1976-8: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1979

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