LHERMITTE, Léon-Augustin
(b. 1844, Mont Saint-Père, Aisne, d. 1925, Paris)


French draughtsman, printmaker, painter and illustrator. He was the only son of a village schoolmaster and his precocious drawing skill won him an annual grant from the state. In 1863 he went to Paris and became a student at the Petite Ecole, where one of his teachers was Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran, famed for his method of training the visual memory. Jean-Charles Cazin, a fellow pupil, became a lifelong friend and Lhermitte later got to know Alphonse Legros, Henri Fantin-Latour, Jules Dalou and Rodin, who had all studied at the school.

In 1864 his charcoal drawing the Banks of the Marne near Alfort (untraced) was exhibited at the Salon. By inclination and by training a meticulous draughtsman, he continued to exhibit his drawings at the Salon until 1889. He won his first medal in 1874 with La Moisson (Musée de Carcassone). Other prizes and honours came to Lhermitte throughout his long career, including the Grand Prix at the Exposition Universelle, 1889, the Diplome d'honneur, Dresden, 1890, and the Legion of Honour. He was a founding member of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.

Lhermitte's subject matter rarely deviated from the peasants and rural life of his youth. The most profound influence upon his work was Jean François Millet who, like Lhermitte, was equally adept with pastel as with oil.

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