Pastel on paper
9 x 12 inches (22.9 x 30.5 cm)
Framed: 19 x 22 inches (48.2 x 55.9 cm)
Signed lower right: Lhermitte
The Fine Art Society, London
Prince Ben Abdul Aziz al Sud, Saudi Arabia
Maurice Ishak (gifted from the above)
Frost & Reed, London
Mr and Mrs Michael Jackson, CA
Private Collection, Los Angeles
This work will be included in the supplement to the catalogue raisonné in preparation by Brame & Lorenceau and Monique Le Pelley-Fonetney.
The Comite Lhermitte has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
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.
Les 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.