This startlingly clear pastel street scene is signed by French artist M Hecquet and dated 31-3-43, for March 31st, 1943. From a cobble-stone side street, the artist appears to be looking across a stone and brick bridge, toward a cluster of buildings on crowded streets, with at least one church tower and other official-looking buildings as well as homes. The water is still and reflects the greenery and buildings above. It is a bright, clear blue sky day.
The bright pastels almost seem like accents to sharp charcoal or graphite lines that define each building and accent the trees, stone walls, bridge and streets. Look at the close-up to see how real the stones appear.
The country of origin of this piece is France. In researching this piece of art, I was unable to find anything definitive about the artist. I was drawn to this piece of artwork by the still, calm scene and the clear talent of the artist. It is also interesting to note that on the date signed by the artist almost all of France was under German occupation which the Vichy French government ruled (if the Germans didn't). In one of the great ironies of history, the Germans fostered the arts and artists and despite the wartime/occupied France environment, this artist would have been free to create and may even have been promoted and sponsored during the war. The scene itself represents to me a forced, absolute calm, devoid of people, machines and modernism that must have been very prevalent when it was drawn, as if the artist looked into either an idyllic past or imagined what the present should have been.
The pastel is elaborately framed in a deep relief, burled wood-finish lacquer frame with an inner frame, gold accents, a heavy linen matt with a pronounced edge and it is behind glass. The back of the frame has a heavy backboard with a detailed paper overlay and tape that covered the nails holding the backer board in place. While the frame shows a couple of knocks and the tape is decayed, there is no evidence the nails have been disturbed since placed. This is most likely the original frame, but it was probably framed after WWII. There is some transference of the pastels to the inside of the glass. The pastel is app. 17 3/4" wide by 27 1/2" tall. The framed pastel is 25" wide by 29" tall.
Please take a look at this amazing piece of art, reflecting a peaceful French country-city scene, drawn during a moment of tumultuous history.