Old Pastel Master: Léon Augustin Lhermitte

Léon-Augustin Lhermitte "Old Harvester's Meal"

Léon-Augustin Lhermitte "Old Harvester's Meal"
Léon-Augustin Lhermitte “Old Harvester’s Meal”

Léon Augustin Lhermitte (1844 – 1925) was a French realist painter and etcher whose primary subject matter was of rural scenes depicting the peasant worker. He was born in Mont-Saint-Père. A student of Lecoq de Boisbaudran, he gained recognition after his show in the Paris Salon in 1864.
Like his contemporary, Jean François Millet, Lhermitte took pastel to a higher degree of completion. While his earliest pastels were studies drawn from nature, his later pastels, including the one in this post, evolved into large-scale, finished compositions in their own right. Lhermitte was certainly one of the most accomplished masters of his generation.
Lhermitte’s innovative use of pastels won him the admiration of his contemporaries. 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 … I am too preoccupied by Lhermitte this evening to be able to talk of other things.”

James Whistler, The Cemetery

James Abbott McNeill Whistler "Cemetery"
James Abbott McNeill Whistler “Cemetery”

Artist: Whistler, James Abbott McNeill
The Cemetery, 1880
Pastel on brown paper

This sheet, made early on in Whistler’s stay in Venice, features the cemetery island and church of San Michele in the brilliant light of day. With a heavy application of pastel, the artist renders the gleaming marble of the Renaissance structure, the cypress trees within the cemetery walls, and the canopied funeral boat at left. Short strokes and zigzagging lines make up their vivid reflections in the rippling water. Whistler probably sketched the scene aboard a gondola. Find more works by Whistler in Whistler’s Venice book.

Dimensions: 203 x 301 mm.
source: Frick Collection
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