Monday, August 5, 2013

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: Le Pardon de Plourin, Brittany, 1877

Le Pardon de Plourin, Brittany
Leon Lhermitte, 1877
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Painter Léon Lhermitte (1844-1925) was born in Mont-Saint-Père, but he didn’t remain in the little French town.
  Lhermitte soon became a student at the Petite Ecole in Paris, under the supervision of Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran (1802-1897), who was responsible for instructing such famous names as Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) and Alphonse Legros (1837-1911) among others.

Lhermitte exhibited at the Paris Salon between 1866 and the first decade of the 20th century. He was, notably, a founding member of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1890 and was made officer of the Légion d'honneur in 1894.

Lhermitte's is best known for his bucolic peasant scenes depicting scenes of everyday life.
  Here, we see such a scene set outside of a church on the occasion of a religious feast called a “Pardon” which was celebrated during Easter. 

Lhermitte presents a charming scene of men and women in traditional dress. They are chatting and buying fruits and cakes while leaving the church in a village which looks a lot like Mont-Saint-Père—the artist’s birthplace.  In fact, Lhermitte painted this work while visiting his home town in 1877.

This work was commissioned from the artist (as a pair) by Constantine Alexander Ionides around April 1877.
  A letter in a private collection from Lhermitte in Paris to the famed collector Ionides is dated April 19 1877.  The letter mentions that one of his two pictures is finished and that the other would be ready in time for his next trip to London.

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