Lhermitte, Leon Augustin 1844 - 1925
oil on canvas, 30 x 25 ins., ca. 1911
Léon Augustin L'hermitte (1844, Mont-Saint-Père – 1925, Paris) was a French painter and etcher of the late nineteenth century. As a young talent, he received a three year stipend from a philanthropic individual who lived in L’Hermitte’s village. A student at the Petite Ecole in Paris and a pupil of Lecocq de Boisbourdran, he trained as an artist whose primary subject matter was of rural scenes depicting “peasants” in realistic contemporary circumstances. Yet these pictures depicted a timeless understanding of rural life, far from the quick tempo and modern innovations of the cities. To urban eyes, though realist in manner, his work was “romantic” in sensibility and the public loved them for that. He first gained recognition after his show in the Paris Salon in 1864. His many awards include the French Legion of Honour (1884) and the Grand Prize at the Exposition Universelle in 1889. No less an artist than Vincent Van Gogh wrote that “If every month Le Monde Illustré published one of his compositions... it would be a great pleasure for me to be able to follow it. It is certain that for years I have not seen anything as beautiful as this scene by Lhermitte.” This particular painting, executed in 1911, is less typical of his early, bright outdoor scenes, but painted on the year of his friend and colleague Josef Israels’ death, can be seen as an homage to his friend’s talent and style. It has been in an American collection since the 1920’s. Lhermitte's etchings and paintings are housed in museums around the world including Boston, Washington, New York, Chicago, St.Louis, Montreal, Brussels, Rheims, Paris, Moscow and Florence.