• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2035

    19th Century European Art and Orientalist Art

    22 October 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 152

    Léon Augustin Lhermitte (French, 1844-1925)

    Sortie du troupeau du rue Chailly

    Price Realised  


    Léon Augustin Lhermitte (French, 1844-1925)
    Sortie du troupeau du rue Chailly
    signed and dated 'L. Lhermitte 1904' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    37½ x 48 in. (95.3 x 121.9 cm.)
    Painted in 1904.

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    He [Lhermitte] is the absolute master of the figure, he does what he likes with it - proceeding neither form the color nor the local tone, but rather from the light - as Rembrandt did - there is an astonishing mastery in everything he does, above all excelling in modeling, he perfectly satisfies all that honesty demands.

    - Vincent van Gogh

    Working in charcoal, oil and pastel, Léon Augustin Lhermitte produced an oeuvre of astounding versatility to which the present body of work attests. He seldom deviated from the sun-dappled depiction of the French rural landscape and its glorious heroes and heroines - gleaners, laundresses and farm laborers - set in harmonious accord. His paintings are indebted to the beauty of the Barbizon landscape painters, such as Corot and to the subtle strength of the French realists, such as Jean Francois Millet and Julien Dupre. Lhermitte never descended into sentimentalism when rendering la vie rustique; his depiction of rustic activity always embodied dignity and grace in the wake of increasing industrialization.

    Lhermitte was born in 1844 in Mont-Saint-Pere in Aisne. As a young child he was frequently ill, and so spent a great deal of time drawing portraits of his parents and copying engravings found in such popular publications as Le magasin pittoresque and le muse des familles. A neighbor took notice of his talent early on and made the fortuitous decision of showing his work to the Minister of State and of Fine Arts, Count Alexandre Walewski, who secured a renewable scholarship for the young artist that allowed him to attend courses at the Ecole Imperiale du Dessin in Paris (the Petit Ecole).

    During his second year at the Petit Ecole, Lhermitte exhibited his first work to the Salon, a charcoal drawing executed in black and white - a fusain - that he produced when he was only nineteen years old. It is telling that his first Salon entry happened to be a drawing for he would continue to publicly exhibit drawings for the majority of his career, doing so until 1889. Like van Gogh, Lhermitte placed great emphasis on his drawings, reveling in the subtle contrasts of light and dark produced by charcoal on paper. Interior des paysans, a fusain rendered in 1880 near the artist's birthplace of Mont-Saint-Pere, reminds us that Lhermitte thought of his drawings as independent works rather than preliminary studies.

    Special Notice

    No sales tax is due on the purchase price of this lot if it is picked up or delivered in the State of New York.


    with Boussod, Valadon & Cie, Paris.
    with Arthur Tooth & Sons, New York, 1905.
    Edward Mallinckrodt Sr., St. Louis, Missouri, 1905.
    by descent to Elizabeth Baker Mallinckrodt until 1974.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Sold to Benefit the Acquisition Fund of the Saint Louis Art Museum


    M. Le Pelley Fonteny, Léon Augustin Lhermitte: 1844-1925: Catalogue raisonné, 1991, p. 120, no. 88 (illustrated).


    Paris, Salon, 1904, no. 803.
    St. Louis, City Art Museum of St. Louis, The House Exhibition: An Exhibition of Paintings Owned in St. Louis, 1911, no. 43 (illustrated).
    St. Louis, The St. Louis Art Museum, On View, 6 October - 17 November 1974.