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ITEM TITLE Repos, Effet de Grand Soleil, Moisonneur Endormi, Mezy

ARTIST NAME Lhermitte, Léon Augustin

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Léon Augustin Lhermitte (1844 - 1925)

Repos, Effet de Grand Soleil, Moisonneur Endormi, Mezy

Pastel on paper, signed
Frame size 18 x 22in / 45.8 x 56cm

PROVENANCE

Boussod, Valadon and Cie, Paris, no. 18611

G. Petit, Galerie Gary Roche, Vichy

Private collection from 1935

LITERATURE

Monique Le Pelley Fonteny, Léon Augustin Lhermitte
(1844 – 1925). Catalogue raisonné, Paris 1991
no 391. p. 320, illustrated

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Léon Augustin Lhermitte was a French landscape painter. Born in the rural village of Mont Saint-Père in Picardie and surrounded by stunning countryside, he was easily influenced to paint and his talent was spotted quickly. This was the inspiration in his work for almost his entire career. In 1863 he went to Paris to study at Le Petit Ecole alongside Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran. It was here that he established a lifelong friendship with Jean Charles Cazin and became acquainted with Alphonse Legros, Henri Fantin-Latour, and Auguste Rodin.

In 1864 he made his debut at the Salon with a charcoal drawing, Bords de Marne près d’Alfort. Lhermitte soon gained a reputation for being as capable with oils as with pastel and charcoal. He contributed plates for Edouard Lièvre’s book Works of Art in the Collections of England that was printed in London in 1871–72. At the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889 and 1900 he was presented with the Grand Prix and a year later he received a Diploma of Honour at Dresden. He was the co-founder of the Societé Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1890 and was later elected president. In 1910 Lhermitte was named Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur.

Lhermitte is best known for his rural and urban scenes of French life. A deep sensitivity to the spontaneous handling of paint suggests he painted en plein air. His most remarkable paintings are fundamental to French Naturalism.

Van Gogh’s admiration of both Lhermitte is recounted often in his letters: ‘For me that man (Lhermitte) is Millet the Second, in the full sense of the term; I adore his work as much as that of Millet himself. I think his genius of the same order as that of Millet the First’ (Letter to Anthon van Rappard, August 1885). Several of van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo in 1885, also mention a series of prints depicting the months of the year (Les Mois Rustiques) that Lhermitte illustrated for the French magazine, Le Monde Illustré. A different peasant theme accompanied each monthly issue and in anticipation, van Gogh repeatedly asked Theo to send him the most recent copies. Van Gogh also commented to Theo that ‘the peasants by Lhermitte….are splendid just because of the life there is in them’. (Letter to Theo, 4 or 5 May, 1885).

His work can be seen today in many major museums in France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Austria and Russia, as well as The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and museums in Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia.