Los Angeles

Mau­rice Chabas

Cowie Gallery

Mau­rice Chabas (1862–1948) was a mystic whose paintings today seem possibly a bit naive if not condemned by the terms “pretty” or “sentimental.” They reflect the attitude of Puvis de Chavannes but avoid the ambiguous compromise of realism and formalism that character­ized Chavannes’ work. For the most part they are small images, warm in tonality and rhythmic in composition, dealing with the metaphysical qualities of light as symbolic of the source of Divine Love. Several relate to a series Chabas titled as Toward the Infinite. In such as The Nativity the figures are little more than sketchily drawn: it is the pul­sating, vaporous nimbuses of variating oranges that dominate the canvas. In contrast are the larger impressionist pieces such as Road to Spain and Canary Island and a pointillist work of earlier date, Tranquillity. These are, however, conventional pieces which, despite prejudices, lack the personal vision of the smaller works.

Constance Perkins