Albert Lebourg fully understood the poetic quality of Impressionism and the benefits it brought to painting. He started his studies as a student of Architecture but after meeting the Rouen landscape painter Delamarre, he orientated himself to working as an artist. In his taste for landscapes seen through monochromatic skies, he follows in the tradition of Boudin and Jongkind. His origins and education (Rouen Fine-Art School) explain the harmony between his perception and the reality of the landscapes of the Seine Valley.
Mill in Normandy
Lebourg’s roots were in Normandy and particularly Rouen where his painting has been appreciated since the early 1870s. His recognition in the Parisian world came with his participation in 1879 in what now is called the 4th Impressionist Exhibition. This exhibition, which took place at 28 avenue de l’Opéra in Paris, included Caillebotte, Cassatt, Degas, Monet, Pissarro and Lebourg who showed twenty paintings and ten drawings. Subsequently, Lebourg took part in the 5th Impressionist Exhibition in Paris in 1880. The artists in this latter exhibition included Caillebotte, Cassatt, Degas, Guillaumin, Lebourg, Morisot and Pissarro. In this exhibition, Lebourg presented ten paintings and sixteen drawings and watercolors.(rsjohnsonfineart.com)
The Quay de l'Amiraute in Algiers
Born at Monfort-sur-Risle, Albert Lebourg entered the École des Beaux-Arts of Rouen at a very young age. He was noticed in Rouen by the collector Laperlier who referred him to be appointed as a drawing professor at the Société des Beaux-Arts in Algiers. He was influenced there by Jean Seignemartin who helped him bring more clarity and light into his paintings. He married in 1873; the young couple remained in Algiers until the summer of 1877 when Lebourg resigned his teaching post and returned to Paris with numerous canvases of the Admiralty, the casbah and mosques.
Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame de Paris
View from Pont de la Tournelle
Notre Dame de Paris
View from the Quai de la Tournelle
Paris, the kBridge of Saint-Peres
All images from allpaintings.org
Upon his return to Paris, Lebourg became involved in Impressionism, and participated in Impressionist exhibits in 1879 and 1880. He became friends with Monet, Sisley and Degas, and continued to paint in the Impressionist style throughout the rest of his career.
Although he was almost exclusively a landscape painter, Lebourg incorporated themes in his paintings, such as the presence of water in his later works. Also, like his friend and fellow artist Monet, Lebourg would experiment with light and paint the same or similar landscapes in different shades and tones. He was particularly fond of painting the changing seasons, as well as sunrises and sunsets.
The Banks of the Seine River at Caumont in the summer
Route au bord de la Seine à Neuilly, en hiver
Bords de seine a port – marly
The Seine in the outskirts of Paris, with its countless subjects, kept Lebourg occupied in all seasons. He continued to paint in Auvergne, Normandy, and Ile de France. From 1888 to 1895, Lebourg settled in Puteaux, where he availed himself to the surroundings of Paris. He wrote at the time: "I will paint often at the banks of the Seine: Nanterre, Rueil, Chatou, Bougival, Port-Marly. These are a source of themes and very beautiful landscapes”. At that time, he painted what he regarded as his best paintings.
Lebourg decided to travel to Holland during the years of 1895-1897 and this period saw him returning to his paints and painting in watercolour too. He also visited Great Britain wishing to see what was currently in vogue in artistic circles. In 1903, He was made a Chevalier of the Legion d'honneur and in that same year exhibited 111 paintings. However Lebourg's restless spirit took him, travelling throughout Europe again, from Switzerland to Belgium, from Holland back to France In 1918, he had his largest exhibition of paintings, some 216 canvases, 2 watercolours and 51 drawings, in Paris.
The banks of Lake of Geneva
Oil on canvas, 1902
It was in 1902 that Albert Lebourg underwent treatment on the shores of Lake Geneva in Saint-Gingolph. With rare exceptions, the pictures painted on the shores of Lake Geneva do not differ essentially in composition from his customary motifs he produced on the banks of the Seine. The edge of a hill to the right or left, here much higher of course, and sometimes cutting the picture diagonally.
Here, at the foot, against a pontoon, a small steamer plying the lake; there a few fishing boats, with nets wound in, in their large sloping yard. On the quayside, a few people and the sky above all this which, as everywhere else, animates everything. You feel that he is deliberately falling back into his old ways. It is, in particular, the atmosphere, the local color, more accentuated, that distinguishes and characterizes this series.
(Albert LEBOURG by Léance Bénédite at latelierdutemps.com)
In a commentary on Lebourg's art, Gustave Geoffroy wrote in 1918: His works do not have brilliant colors or lights like fireworks. But when we look at his paintings, we are drawn into a well-balanced world, infinitely gentle, comfortable and transparent, where everything evaporates and dissolves into a charming and melancholic dream intoxicated with the graces chosen out of the universe.
He always remained faithful, however to his native Normandy, where he drew inspiration for his masterpieces with rose and grey-blue skies. “I am an impressionist in the sense that I am impressed by the present moment” Although far less renowned than Monet or Pissaro, Lebourg is one of the leading painters of this fascinating period.
In September of 1920 Lebourg suffered a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body. Nevertheless he remarried the next February in 1921. A Catalogue Raisonné was organized that year that included 2,137 works and was released in 1923, which garnered united praise by the press.
The year of 1926 bid farewell to the last of the great impressionists: Charles Angrand, Mary Cassatt and Claude Monet; in 1927: Albert Guillaumin. Albert Lebourg died in Rouen on January 7, 1928.
Lebourg’s works are in many museums: the Musee d’Orsay, Petit-Palais and Carnavalet in Paris, as well as museums in: Bayonne, Clermont-Ferrand, Le Havre, Dunkerque, Lille, Strasbourg, Sceaux and above all Rouen (Depeaux collection).
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