The Banks of the Marne at Dawn

Object Details


The Banks of the Marne at Dawn


Albert Dubois-Pillet (French, 1846 - 1890)




France (Place created)


about 1888


Watercolor over traces of black chalk


15.8 x 22.2 cm (6 1/4 x 8 3/4 in.)

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This exquisite watercolor is a rare sheet in the extant work of artist Albert Dubois-Pillet. Scenes of the rivers Seine and Marne were among the artist's favorite subjects, the foliage and reflections of sky and scenery were prime inspiration for his pointillist works.

The pointillist technique creates an overall image through tiny spots of color. It allows the viewer to almost feel the artist at work, as one can pick out the precise taps of the brush tip against the paper. When seen from afar, for example, this vista's gentle curves, especially those of the bank of trees at right, capture a lush depth and even volume. Up close, however, one can appreciate how this pointillist surface is built up of precise groupings of varying blues and greens, with highlights created by the tiny dots of yellow and of white paper showing through.

The palette of this particular work has several striking elements. For example, the choice of orange for the water and clouds creates a sense of excitement in what might otherwise be a purely languorous, even pretty scene.

The present sheet is closely related to a painting depicting the same view of the Marne, dated 1888 and currently in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris. This drawing is unlikely to have been a preparatory study, and is instead a more abstract adaptation after the painting, perhaps completed for a collector as a finished work of art in its own right.

The work is signed by Dubois-Pillet in watercolor at the lower right.

Capturing Nature's Beauty: Three Centuries of French Landscapes (July 28 to November 1, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 28 to November 1, 2009