Leon Lhermitte

French, 1844-1925 Biography

Léon Augustin Lhermitte studied with Lecoq de Boisbaudran and made his Salon debut in 1864, where his painting Bords de la Marne pres d’Alfort was well received. He was awarded medals at the Paris Salons of 1874 and 1880, won the Grand Prix at the Exhibition Universelle in 1889 and was awarded the Diplome d’honneur at Dresden in 1890. In 1884 he was decorated with the Légion d’honneur, promoted to officer in 1894 and elevated to commander in 1911. In 1890 he became one of the founding members of the Societé Nationale des Beaux-Arts, of which he was to become Vice-President. He was elected a member of l’Institut in 1905.

Lhermitte painted almost exclusively scenes from rural life and was quite strongly influenced by the works of Jean-Francois Millet. He also studied closely the works of Jules Bastien-Lepage, Alfred Philippe Roll, Jean Charles Cazin and Jean-Francois Raffaelli. Like all these artists, he was later to adopt the style of ‘La peinture clair’ made fashionable by the Impressionists. This was a time when artists were becoming increasingly aware of the works of authors such as Maupassant and Zola which eventually led to the development of the Realist movement. Lhermitte should perhaps be more properly grouped with the ‘New Realists’ who had Courbet as their direct progenitor and Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848-1884) as their lead exponent; at the same time, however, Lhermitte is the spiritual descendant of Millet. His numerous pure landscapes also class him as one of the last artists of individuality and talent to be directly influenced by the work and precepts put forward by the Barbizon School.

There are paintings by Lhermitte in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Institute of Fine Art in Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Musee d’Orsay in Paris amongst many others.

10 x 10 inches
16 x 18 inches framed
Signed lower right: L. Lhermitte
Executed circa 1886