The Complete Works of Philippe Smit
by Andreas Narzt and Florence Castellani
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Catalogue entry

Photo: Christopher Burke Studios, NY; © FdDPS
Photo: Christopher Burke Studios, NY; FdDPS
Original frame designed and painted by the artist.

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Classification: Painting »
Theme: landscape »
Medium: Oil »
Support: on canvas »
Year(s): 1933 »   //  1934 »
PS 421 (P 116; LNC 191)
La source (The Spring)
Alternate title: La Source
1933–34
Oil on canvas
83 1/8 x 51 3/8 in. (211 x 130.5 cm)
Neither signed, nor dated
On the back: two metal plates: Pitcairn and 116 on the frame upper right.
Inventories
Inv. Les Pleignes, P. Damidot, 1938, LNC archives: no. P 116, p. 7, hall d'entrée, Grand tableau par Philippe Smit./ Vieil ermite se désaltérant à une source dans une forêt. 8.000 [FRF].
Inv. Pitcairn, n.d. [c.1957], n.p., LNC archives: no. P 116 F, Rev. Theodore Pitcairn, The Spring, Smit, Oil, 80 1/2 x 50 [in.].
Inv. LNC, 1984, updated Oct. 1998, LNC archives: no. P 116, p. 2, The Church Hall - Art Gallery, The Spring, Oil, 80 1/2 x 50 [in.].
Exhibitions
Galerie Pierre Maurs, Paris, France, Peinture et Pastels de Philippe Smit, February 04, 1948, no. 55, as La Source, 1933, (CP).
Literature & Primary Sources
No known published references.
Notes
The subject of this painting is based on the poem of the same title La Source from the volume La Nature by Maurice Rollinat:1

p. 101
[…]
La source filtre de la roche
Comme des pleurs furtifs des yeux,
[…]
p. 103
Je vis près de l’humble fontaine
Un vieux mendiant paysan
Sur son bissac se reposant
De quelque marche très lointaine.

Immobile tel qu’un objet
Devant la source minuscule,
[…]
p. 104
Puis, au creux de sa maigre main,
A deux genoux dans le mystère,
Il but de ces pleurs que la Terre
Versait là comme un être humain.
[…]

So far we do not have any explication on the open book by Emanuel Swedenborg lying next to the old man.
 
On the 11th march 1934, Leo Hubscher writes to René Massé: "I know that Philippe is about to make a very large painting for Theo [Theodore Pitcairn] and this is probably the reason why he has not yet replied to you; you know Philippe, when he begins a new work, he invests himself in it with all his heart and soul."2 Certainly it is to this painting that Leo Hubscher refers. The idea for the subject of this large canvas can be dated back to 1929/30 (see [PS 312]), the composition itself maybe even earlier. Sketchbook n° 9, from around the beginning of the 1920s, contains sketches and rough outlines depicting an old man kneeling in front of a spring, drinking its water; these show a close resemblance to the composition of this painting. Theodore Pitcairn bought it for $16.000 in December 1934.3

1. Maurice Rollinat, La Nature, Paris: G. Charpentier et E. Fasquelle, 1882, p. 101-104.
2. "Je sais que Philippe est en train de faire un très grand tableau pour Theo [Theodore Pitcairn] et c'est probablement bien pour cette raison qu'il ne vous a pas encore répondu; vous connaissez Philippe, quand il commence une nouvelle œuvre, il s'y met avec tout son cœur et son âme." (Leo Hubscher, ALS à René Massé, Avon, 11th March 1934, private archives, Paris, Massé album).
3. See purchasing lists (Glencairn archives).

Record last updated May 4, 2017. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
Citation: Narzt, Andreas and Castellani, Florence. "La source (The Spring), 1933–34 (PS 421)." The Complete Works of Philippe Smit. http://www.philippesmit.com/cr/catalogue/entry.php?id=421 (accessed on September 26, 2021).