48. Auguste Bonheur

Bordeaux 1824 – 1884 Bellevue, Seine-et-Oise

Sartre Waterfall near Apchon (Cantal)

Like his renowned elder sister Rosa (cat. 125), Auguste Bonheur learned the rudiments of his art from their father Raymond (1796–1849). Auguste and Rosa sometimes collaborated on paintings, and co-signed oil studies attest that brother and sister went on painting trips together to remote locations. They belonged to a generation that did not travel to Italy for their artistic formation. In his search for motifs and inspiration, Bonheur mostly travelled throughout his native France, spending time in Normandy, Brittany, the Pyrenees, and, above all, the Auvergne. In this sketch, he paints the Cascade du Sartre near Apchon, one of the best-known waterfalls in the region. The location of the picture is identified not only by the distinctive nature of the site but also by the small paper label affixed at lower left1. The crisp white cascade of water stands out against the overcast sky and austere colour scheme – dominated by greens, greys and black – evocative of the cold, damp region. Tiny holes along the edges of the sketch suggest that Bonheur pinned his support to a board in order to paint.

1This label designates the waterfall as that of Salins, also near the village of Apchon, but it has recently been possible to identify it correctly as the Sartre cascade, which is much more alike with the deflections of the water on the rock face.