Thursday, December 17, 2009

THE SINGER OF WHEAT




Portrait de Léon Lhermitte – Huile sur panneau
By Jean-Joseph Weerts (1846-1927)
From sites.google.com



Many artists during the latter half of the nineteenth century relied on imagery introduced by earlier generations of painters. At the same time, however, these artists, such as Léon-Augustin Lhermitte, rejuvenated these older themes by executing them with progressive techniques. Lhermitte took the recognized imagery of the peasant and rural life and reintroduced it by using more contemporary media, such as pastels. For these innovations, Lhermitte was praised and admired by his contemporaries. Admired by contemporaries and modern audiences alike, Lhermitte brought the image of rural life and landscape into the twentieth century. During this early period in his career he executed compositions replete with the most minute details, depicting each diverse activity before the advent of industrialization overtook the village life of France.
Gabriel Weisberg in his work entitled “Léon Lhermitte: Creativity in Context” from the exhibition catalog Léon Lhermitte 1844-1925 explains that:
"…to Lhermitte, rustic activity embodied dignity, for he believed workers in the fields seldom complained…Bolstering these ways of representing workers were the locales in which Lhermitte places his figures. The countryside was seldom dour or depressing, the atmosphere often appeared light and airy…and the environment seemed spacious."
In his image of rustic life, Lhermitte focused not only on peasant life in the fields, for which he earned the title, “the singer of wheat,” but also on interior scenes of peasant life at home, infused with the interior detailing and emphasis on light effects in his scenes. He also became a devoted depicter of mother and child, an emotional theme that showed Lhermitte’s sensitivity to the issues of family and relationships. His interest in femininity also extended to peasant women washing their clothes along the river basin, especially along the Marne. In these cases, Lhermitte combined each of his interests to create his compositions.
(FINE ART DEALERS ASSOCIATION)


Les Glaneuses (The Gleaners)
oil on canvas
Private collection
From sophiako.tistory.com


The Gleaners
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fred and Sherry Ross
From sophiako.tistory.com


The Haymakers
Source the-athenaeum.org
Author Léon Augustin Lhermitte
From Wikimedia Commons


Le Reveil du Faucheur
Oil on canvas
Private collection
from sophiako.tistory.com


Moissonneurs à Mont-Saint-Pere
Harvesters at Mont-Saint-Pere
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From hi.baidu.com


Haymakers
Pastel on paper
Private collection
From sophiako.tistory.com


The Harvesters
Pastel on paper
Private collection
From sophiako.tistory.com


La Ferme De Sombre (The Sombre Farm)
Oil on canvas,
Private collection
From ARC


La Lecture (Reading time)
Oil on canvas,
Private collection
From ARC


Les Cordonniers de Mont-Saint-Père
From sites.google.com


Washerwomen at a Stream with Buildings beyond
Pastel on paper
Private collection
From ARC


Le Lavoir prés de la Ferme d'Erlan (Pas-de-Calais)
The Laundress of Erlan Farm (Pas-de-Calais)
Pastel on paper mounted on can
Private collection
From ARC


Laveuses le Matin
Washerwomen in the Morning
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC


Lavandieres Au Bord De La Marne
Washerwomen by the Banks of the Marne
Oil on canvas,
Private collection
From ARC


Laveuses le soir
Pastel on paper mounted on can
Private collection
From ARC


Les laveuses à Mont-Saint-Père
Pastel sur toile
From sites.google.com


Laveuses Des Bords De La Marne
Washerwomen by the Banks of the Marne
Pastel on paper
Private collection
From ARC


He continued to exhibit these types of images at the annual Parisian salon held by the Société des Artistes Français but soon, around 1890, changed directions and began showing instead at the Salon for the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, to which he was named a “Sociétaire.” The Société Nationale was comprised of a group of artists who sought to provide other artists a less prohibitive exhibition embracing all the arts and more avant-garde themes and styles. Lhermitte, while treating subjects that found a sympathetic audience, quickly fell under the influence of the Impressionist group and began using a light palette and treating atmospheric effects which linked him to this progressive movement and thus more progressive exhibitions such as these. At the same time, his work was already more readily accepted by the Salon jury and audiences than these other Impressionists since his work did not challenge their preconceived notions of art. Lhermitte used progressive stylistic treatments, but relied on imagery in the vein of previous Realists to establish himself as an artist of dual nature, in this ever-changing period of French art.
His associations with dealers and his increasing reliance on charcoal and pastel drawings put him in contact with another international dealer, Wallis, who had galleries in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States, thus disseminating Lhermitte’s vision of rustic life throughout the Western world. Monique Le Pelley Fontenay explains the public’s intrigue in his works (“Léon Augustin Lhermitte”, Léon Lhermitte 1844-1925):
"During his lifetime Lhermitte was very highly regarded in Anglo-Saxon countries where the picturesque and the healthy values celebrated in his painting and pastels were particularly appreciated. Values of work and family appear frequently in his work. Like Jules Breton and Rosa Bonheur, Lhermitte was appreciated because he represented the “good old days.” …Throughout his life Lhermitte pointedly ignored the Industrial Revolution, fixing instead on the image of society before its disappearance, the vision of a paradise lost for the citizens of big cities, of a time frozen outside the march of history"
(FINE ART DEALERS ASSOCIATION)


Washerwomen Setting The Linens Out To Dry
Black chalk
Public collection
From ARC


At The Well
Charcoal on paper
Public collection
From ARC


Breton Peasants Buying Fruit At Landerneau
Charcoal on paper
Public collection
From ARC


Portrait de Charles François DAUBIGNY
From daubigny.van-gogh.fr


Le Réveillon ou Souper en famille
From sites.google.com


Interior of a Butcher Shop
Private Collection
From porkopolis.org


Épicerie de village
From adventuresintheprinttrad

From cafe.naver.com
Leon Lhermitte was born in 1844 and was still executing works in the French rural tradition at his death in 1925, making him the last in an illustrious group of artists dedicated to this genre. He showed artistic talent at a young age and in 1863 left his home at Mont-Saint-Pere, Aisne for the Petite Ecole in Paris where he studied with Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran. Lecoq was known for his program of training the visual memory of his students, and his theories had a profound effect on Lhermitte. It was in his studio that Lhermitte formed a life-long friendship with Cazin and also became acquainted with Legros, Fantin-Latour and Rodin. Lhermitte sent his initial entry to the Salon in 1864 when he was nineteen, and continued to exhibit charcoal drawings and paintings regularly, and pastels after 1885, winning his first medal in 1874 with La Moisson (Musee de Carcassonne). Other prizes and honors came to Lhermitte tbroughout his long career, including the Grand Prix at the Exhibition Universelle, 1889, the Diplome d'honneur, Dresden, 1890, and the Legion of Honor. He was a founding member of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts.
(Anderson Galleries)
His upbringing in the rural village of Mont Saiint-Père in Picardie provided him with the subjects and landscapes that would become the staples of his oeuvre. Lhermitte soon gained a reputation for being as capable with oils as with pastel and charcoal.
Lhermitte was born during a time that heralded a vast change in the urban and rural landscapes of France. The country was speeding into the modern world as urban spaces became more dense, industrialized, and teeming with activity. France was divided between a more educated, progressive North and a rural South of farm and field laborers. People rarely travelled between the regions and, as Paris became more and more cosmopolitan, Parisians progressively saw the south as a bucolic idyll frozen in time and impervious to change.
(artnet.com)
Urban townspeople imagined rural field-hands as robust, diligent peasant workers, too philistine for the metropolitan world. The urban elite increasingly used stereotypes of the countryside for their own agendas, creating a form of induced romantic nostalgia. As the cities rapidly processed advances in industry and dealt with a burgeoning population, many artists and writers used images to convince urban citizens to view the rural south as a land romantically caught in the past. The peasants were a reminder of life before the industrialised city, a seemingly unchanging people of the earth.
(artnet.com)


Puiseuses d'eau
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC


Les Pecheurs
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC


A leading member of the school of Social Realism, Lhermitte painted, almost exclusively, scenes taken from rural life. The most profound influence upon his work was certainly Jean François Millet, the creator of the Angelus and many other remarkable works, yet, contrary to this, he clearly remained true to his original style of creating beautiful, light-filled pictures in the Barbizon tradition. Lhermitte adopted early on the method of peinture claire similar to that of the Impressionists, except in a more traditionally academic style. He was a talented artist, much respected by his peers, who was also quite commercially successful. Van Gogh wrote of him: “He is the absolute master of the figure, he does what he likes with it - proceeding neither from the colour nor the local tone but rather from the light - as Rembrandt did - there is an astonishing mastery in everything he does, above all excelling in modelling, he perfectly satisfies all that honesty demands.”
(artnet.com)
Lhermitte came from a humble family and for many years earned his living with minor engraving work in France and England, before winning recognition at the Salon from 1874. Fame came after 1880, when the artist successively entered several large paintings depicting the life and people of his native village of Mont-Saint-Père. The Cabaret in 1881, Paying the Harvesters in 1882 and The Harvest in 1883 used the same figures which can be identified from one painting to another. It is easy to recognise, on the left of the scene, the reaper Casimir Dehan, sitting absent-mindedly or resignedly on the bench, after the work is done.
(Musée d'Orsay)


La Paye des moissonneurs
Paying the Harvesters
Oil on canvas
Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France
From ARC


The reaper Casimir Dehan (details)
sitting absent-mindedly or resignedly on the bench
La Paye des moissonneurs (Paying the Harvesters)
paperblog.fr


The subject and technique of Paying the Harvester belong to the Naturalist movement. However Lhermitte did not make this painting into a manifesto against the grinding toil of agricultural labourers as Jules Bastien-Lepage did in his painting Haymaking in 1877, also in the Musee d'Orsay. He was content with a bald statement devoid of polemics in which he uses his great artistic skill, from the remarkably balanced overall composition to the extremely precise rendering of the tiniest details.
(Musée d'Orsay)


La Moisson (The Harvest)
Oil on canvas
92 x 104 5/16 in
University purchase, Parsons Fund
From kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu


Exhibited at the French Salon of 1883 and the 1889 Paris World's Fair, and reproduced in numerous newspapers and periodicals, Léon Lhermitte's La Moisson (above) was the most celebrated of his scenes of rural life. The third in a series of six paintings heroicizing peasant life, Lhermitte's large canvas demonstrates a version of the Realist style of painting developed in the mid-nineteenth century that portrayed rural peasantry and the lower classes with the dignity and seriousness of academic historical, allegorical, and religious painting. With a close, monumental focus on the figures absorbed in their work in the field, Lhermitte's painting meticulously documents the customs, dress, and tools of the Mont-Saint-Père region at the time. Realist images like this delighted urban middle-class audiences who envisioned in rural life - perceived as simpler and more "primitive" - a reprieve from their daily routines. Initially political in intention, later Realist images such as this one presented a utopian and harmonious ideal of a bountiful, peaceful world while overlooking the real hardships and plights of the lower classes.
(kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu)
In 1879 Degas noted in a sketchbook his intention to invite Lhermitte to exhibit with the Impressionists, but Lhermitte never participated in any of their shows. The Tavern, exhibited in the Salon of 1881, initiated the monumental series of paintings on the life of the agricultural worker that came closest to justifying van Gogh’s admiring appellation “Millet the Second”. The next in the series, Harvesters’ Payday was bought for the state and became the artist’s best-known work. The Harvest, third in the series, was included with ten charcoal drawings in the Exposition Nationale in 1883. Lhermitte received the Legion d'honneur in 1884 when he exhibited the fourth monumental composition the Grape Harvest.
(New York, Met.)


The Grape Harvest
Oil on canvas
99 x 82 5/8 in
Gift of William Schaus Jr.
From The Metropolitan Museum of Art


From members.iif.hu
Lhermitte was commissioned in 1886 to do two large portrait groups to decorate the Sorbonne. The first, Claude Bernard in his Laboratory at the Colle de France, was shown in the Salon of 1889. In 1888 Andre Theuriet asked him to illustrate La Vie Rustique, a major commission for which Lhermitte used the many drawings of peasant life he had already executed. Lhermitte was a founding member of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1890. In 1894 he was made an officer of the Legion d’honneur.
(Renoir Fine Art Investments Inc.)


Claude Bernard in his Laboratory
From members.iif.hu


Lhermitte was elected to fill Jacques Henner’s chair in painting at the Institut in 1905. He continued to exhibit in the first decades of the 20th century, when he was generally seen as a relic of a bygone era, although his style later had an influence on Socialist Realism. Increasingly he worked in pastel, his draughtsman’s skill ever in evidence, producing some sensitive portraits and peasant scenes reminiscent of the earlier and more powerful depictions that van Gogh had cited as “an ideal”.
(Renoir Fine Art Investments Inc.)



LEON LHERMITTE - AUTOGRAPH LETTER
SIGNED September 27, 1903
From ebay Classico



6 comments:

ROBERTO FABRIS di Chioggia said...

dear Sir,
owning one of the neo-realist painting you are showing on your beautiful blog, I want to thank you for the work of doing it, the quality of it , I am just returning from Singapore where I was managing the Master of Design and Management for Raffles Insitute, I much appreciated Malaysia and Malacca, with all the flavor of past and present, Thanks again,
best regards,
Roberto Fabris
NB actually i like very much Le rappel des Glaneuses de Jules Breton, and it's hanging on my office walls at home, paintings carrying & telling human history are my favorite ones

rompedas said...

Thank you Roberto and good luck.

kl2u said...

great potrait...happen bump here. Love all the picture.
cheers
http://smashnews.co.cc

rompedas said...

Thanks kl2u.

rompedas said...

Thanks kl2u, glad that you appreciate all the photos posted.

Travis Rafi said...

Saw the Haymakers in The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam back in January 2001 and immediately fell in love with Lhermitte's work.

Thanks for posting all of these, was nice to see more of his work. I adore his sense of weight and mastery of proportion.