Update: This beautiful work will now have a new home after a successful sale at the 2019 Scottsdale Art Auction!
“You could have run into anyone from Paul Cezanne to Albert Camus, or famous American expats like Nina Simone or Ernest Hemingway, or the Hulings family, circa 1984.”
This painting is set in the Cours Mirabeau, the center of the old town of Aix-en-Provence, France. The dappled afternoon light falls peacefully on the scene, giving the yellow paint of the buildings a warm, buttery glow under the rose light. Hulings observes in A Gallery of Paintings: “People like to ascribe colors to the light in different places. In the south of France, it is pink.”
Aix Marks the Spot
Provence, France has become a staple for travelers, in part because of the success of Peter Mayle’s bestselling book A Year in Provence. It’s famous for its university and arts scenes, with one of the top summer festivals in the world. If you have a taste for truffles, flowers, fountains, and the cafe culture of watching people stroll by, this scene will bring back wonderful memories. Had you been here at the right time, you could have run into anyone from Paul Cezanne to Albert Camus, or famous American expats like Nina Simone or Ernest Hemingway, or the Hulings family, circa 1984.
Blossoms sweep across the bottom of the frame in delicate whites, deep purple, orange, yellow, red, and lilac; on the right side, a succulent’s leaves shine and a tree trunk extends up from the flower bed. The flowers in the lower right corner are freely-painted with a lacy texture that reflect the light with a sparkle, and they are a notable departure from a strictly-realist sensibility. Hulings’ advice about painting flowers includes the suggestion that one should “use many big blurs. Do not paint each individual flower. Pick a few to render accurately in order to define the character of various species, such as roses or lilies, and merely suggest the rest.”
Petals & People
A few individuals and families with young children are gathered colorfully around the fountain. Just so that things don’t start getting too sentimental, Hulings has humorously featured a man in a white shirt who may be proof that the tradition of craft beers in the region is still alive and well. Market scenes are classic Hulings subject matter, but this one has a twist in that the market is more of a context for the circular scene around the fountain. The garden in the foreground is where we see the real study of the flowers, inviting us to compare the cheerfulness and variety of the people with the variety of the plants.
The Scottsdale Art Auction will feature this 27 x 44″ painting on April 6, 2019. It was created at a peak moment in the market for Hulings’ work, the mid-1980s, and will be a wonderful addition to a quality art collection. If this work has caught your attention, send us a note and we will make a connection to our friends at the auction.