LA THANGUE, Henry Herbert
(b. 1859, London, d. 1929, London)


English painter. He attended Dulwich College where he met fellow painters Stanhope Forbes (1857-1947) and Frederick Goodall (1822-1904). He enrolled briefly at the Lambeth School of Art before entering the Royal Academy schools c. 1874. In December 1879 he was awarded a gold medal and a travelling scholarship along with a letter of introduction from Frederic Leighton to Jean-Léon Gérôme, under whom he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. While there he was influenced by the rustic naturalist painters of the Salon and by Whistler. Such early works as Study in a Boatbuilding Yard on the French Coast (private collection) echo the work of Jean-Charles Cazin and Jules Bastien-Lepage.

La Thangue spent the summers of 1881 and 1882 working on the Brittany coast with Forbes and a wide circle of plein-air painters, including Bastien-Lepage. In 1883 he and the sculptor James Havard Thomas (1854-1921) went to Donzère in the Rhône Valley, where La Thangue painted Poverty (private collection), a work compositionally similar to Bastien-Lepage's London Flower-seller (1882; untraced).

In 1886, having completed his studies in Paris, he was the instigator of an abortive movement to reform the Royal Academy. Though he did not attend the meetings held by his contemporaries which led to the foundation of the New English Art Club (NEAC), La Thangue was arguably its most controversial exhibitor.

La Thangue lived for a time in Norfolk, painting scenes of Fenland life in a characteristic square-brush manner. He continued to produce large social realist pictures which courted controversy.

In the following years La Thangue's work showed a growing interest in French Impressionism. He travelled to Provence and Liguria, and scenes from these travels gradually infiltrated his work as he increasingly regretted the decline of village life in England. Just before the outbreak of World War I he staged a one-man exhibition at the Leicester Galleries, where he showed a wide selection of landscapes from southern Europe. The exhibition was a critical success and was lavishly praised by Walter Sickert.

After the war, La Thangue returned to Liguria, and during the 1920s his entire production was given over to scenes of orange groves and gardens. He died in a state of depression at the news that some of his paintings had been destroyed in a shipwreck off the coast of New Zealand.