Fine Art

Léon-Augustin Lhermitte

French, 1844-1925

Lavandieres en Provence

Pastel on paper
9 x 12 inches (22.9 x 30.5 cm)
Framed: 19 x 22 inches (48.3 x 56 cm)
Signed lower right: Lhermitte


The Fine Art Society, London
Frost & Reed, London
Private Collection, Los Angeles


This work will be included in the forthcoming Leon Augustin L’Hermitte catalogue raisonne, under preparation by Monique Le Pelley Fonteny. The pastel will be listed as Pa 1056-1.

Leon L’Hermitte 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, where he studied with Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran, in Paris.  Lecoq was known for his program of training the visual memory of his students, and his theories had a profound effect on L’Hermitte.  It was in his studio that L’Hermitte formed a life-long friendship with Cazin and also became acquainted with Legros, Fantin-Latour and Rodin.  L’Hermitte sent his initial entry to the Salon in 1864 at the age of 19; he 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 L’Hermitte throughout his long career, including the Grand Prix at the Exhibition Universelle in 1889, the Diplome d’honneur at Dresden in 1890, and the Legion d’honneur.  He was a founding member of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts.

Lavandieres en Provence features a group of rural French women attending to domestic chores.  The washer women toil to complete their laundry in a landscape rich with yellows and browns.  L’Hermitte depicts these women of Provence both sympathetically and realistically. Although the facial features are vague due to their impressionistic rendering in pastel, the humanity of the women is immediately evident. 

Museum Collections Include:

Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin; Goteborg Art Gallery, Sweden; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA; Melton Park Gallery, Oklahoma City; Oklahoma City Art Museum, OK; Paine Art Center, Oshkosh, WI; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Musee d’Orsay, Paris; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, John G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia; Reading Public Museum and Art Gallery, PA; Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, NY; Museum of Fine Art, Saintes, France; Marion Koogler McNay Art Institute, San Antonio; Washington University Gallery of Art, St. Louis, MO; National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo; Toledo Museum of Art, OH; Art Gallery, Ontario; Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Museum of Fine Art, Boston; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Cleveland Museum of Art, OH; Denver Museum of Art, CO