The cheerful painting of Henri-Edmond Cross under the Var sun

By Simon Cherner

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Toulon, winter morning, 1906-1907, by Henri-Edmond Cross. Private collection/Photo: Charles Maslard

In contact with the Mediterranean, the painting of the neo-impressionist is transformed into a solar and sensual art. The Annonciade museum in Saint-Tropez is devoting an exhibition to him until November.

The faun wiggles lightly in a flowering clearing. Smiling, the goat-eared creature is about to taste the swollen fruits of a bunch of gs; at his side, two naked women frolic in the sun. In the distance, glimpsed behind the twisted trunks of a few trees, stretches the sea. Quietness and innocence lull this world in an Edenic languor. Is this the golden age sung by Ovid? No. It’s the Var, around 1905. Or, at least, this is how Henri-Edmond Cross (1856-1910) re-enchanted him on the spot. The English surname hides an unknown French artist. Born Delacroix, in Douai, without being of the family of the king of the romantics, the young man became a painter and immediately emancipated himself from his august namesake. Based in Paris, he transformed his name, eyeing realism, seeking his style and finding it in the division of tones and colors dear to neo-impressionism and his friend Paul Signac. The story could have ended there. She turns around. Direction…

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