Alfred Maurer 1868-1932

Paris, Nocturne

  • 10 1/4 x 13 3/4 inches (26 x 34.9 cm)
  • Oil on board
  • Signed on verso: A.H. Maurer / 9 rue Falguiere, Paris

Why We Love It

Although he is better known for his innovative exploration of Modernism, Maurer’s early work such as this Paris, Nocturne reveals the artist’s initial interest in the movements of Tonalism and Impressionism. This night scene captures the glittering lights of the city reflected in the dark waters of the Seine as the Eiffel Tower looms majestically in the distance.

The Value

Maurer’s early paintings, such as this one, are some of his most valuable and collectible. Whistler’s strong influence on Maurer at this time is undeniable, as seen in the deep and mysterious mood of this wonderful nocturne. Painted at the turn of the twentieth century, this work is an excellent example of Maurer’s early style; it’s in perfect condition and has a very fine Whistler-style frame.

Artist Background

1868: Born in New York City; 1884: Worked in the family lithography business. Studied with Edgar Ward at the National Academy of Design (NAD); 1897: Sailed for Paris. Studied briefly at the Academie Julian. Thereafter worked alone; 1901: Returned to New York. Awarded bronze medal at the Pan-American Exposition; 1902: Returned to Paris; 1904: Met Gertrude and Leo Stein in Paris, who introduce Maurer to modern art. This meeting was a turning point in Maurer’s artistic development; 1914: Returned to United States at the outbreak of World War I; 1916: Painted post-impressionist landscapes of Marlboro-on-the-Hudson, New York, where he was living; 1917: Exhibited at first annual exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists. He would do so annually until 1932; 1919: Began around this time to paint his “sad girl” series; 1922: Collecter and gallerist E. Weyhe bought first painting by Maurer at Anderson Galleries auction; 1924: Weyhe bought the contents of Maurer’s studio, some 255 paintings. First one-man show at Weyhe Gallery; 1925: First showed paintings from his “two sisters” series at Independents annual; 1929: Sent paintings from “head” series to Independents annual; 1930: Exhibited “pyschological” heads at Independents annual; 1931: Held last one-man show at Weyhe gallery; 1932: Committed suicide.

An early work by Alfred H. Maurer, Paris, Nocturne reveals the artist’s interest in Tonalism and Impressionism upon his arrival in France in 1897. Until about 1905, when he was exposed to the international avant-garde through Gertrude and Leo Stein and Henri Matisse, Maurer was greatly influenced by William Merritt Chase and James McNeil Whistler.  In fact, Whistler’s personal credo of art for art’s sake loomed large in Maurer’s early paintings.  Here, in Paris, Nocturne, Maurer’s emphasis on formal expressiveness and the evocation of mood is very much in line with Whistler’s own aesthetic.

Until he became captivated by the Fauves and began leaning toward Modernism around 1905, Maurer used contemporary life in Paris as the backdrop for his engaging genre scenes.  In Paris Nocturne, the night light as it casts glistening reflections on the Seine, the majesty of the Eiffel Tower in the distance, and the promenading passerby all effectively capture the pulse of the city as Maurer experienced and pictured it.