Leon Augustin Lhermitte, also spelled L'hermitte (French, 1844-1925), "Au Lavoir, Deux Figures," or "The Washer Women, France," graphite and pastel painting depicting two laundresses talking as they wash clothing, with village in background; one woman kneels beside a wash tub and holds a long white cloth in her hands, while the other stands with her elbow resting against a fence or wall. Signed lower left "L. Lhermitte". Note, this painting is illustrated as no. 692 on page 279 of "Leon Augustin Lhermitte: Catalog Raisonne," by Monique Le Pelley Fonteny (Paris: Editions Cercle d'art, 1991). Old label en verso for The Watson Art Galleries, Montreal, with statement of authenticity signed by Mr. Watson and listing title as "The Washer Women; France". Additional handwritten note en verso "Lined by Frank Worrell April 25th 1964". Housed under glass in a Rococo style carved giltwood frame with shell and vine decoration at corners and a center brass plaque engraved "Leon L'Hermitte". Sight – 16 1/2" H x 11 1/2" W. Framed – 25 1/4" H x 20 1/2" W. Provenance: Private Nashville, Tennessee collection; ex-Guarisco Galleries, Washington, DC. Biography (source: Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza): "Leon Lhermitte was born in the French region Aisne, as the son of a school teacher. In 1863 he went to Paris as a pupil of the Ecole Imperiale de Dessin, where he had the same teacher as Rodin, the well known Lecoq de Boisbaudran. A year later one of his drawings was admitted at the Salon in Paris; his first painting was accepted in 1866. In 1869 he went to London where he met Alphonse Legros, who eventually introduced him to the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. Lhermitte's works sold well at Durand-Ruel's gallery in New Bond Street. One of his paintings, "The Harvest" was awarded with a medal at the Paris Salon of 1874. In that period he made several trips to Bretagne. Degas invited Lhermitte to participate in the fourth exhibition of the Impressionists, but Lhermitte refused. His painting "The Payment of the Harvesters" was one of the highlights of the collection of the new Musee du Luxembourg in Paris. The art gallery Boussod, Valadon et Cie., signed a contract with Lhermitte for the exclusive rights to sell his paintings. Boussod and Valadon were the successors of the famous Goupil Gallery, which employed both Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo as sales assistants. The French Government asked Lhermitte to decorate the Salle des Commissions in the Sorbonne, and the city of Paris invited him to make a monumental painting for the decoration of the new Hotel de Ville. At the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris, Lhermitte was represented with seven paintings. He was created officer of the Legion d'Honneur and made a member of the Academie des Beaux-Arts. After the Great War, his health, which had never been very good, deteriorated and made it very difficult for him to continue his work. In his last years he only produced some pastels". CONDITION: Plexiglass covering to back, which we have not attempted to remove in order to protect the painting. It is believed to be on paper, adhered to a wood backing, sandwiched within inner frame, and lightly toned but in otherwise very good condition; no tears noted. See blacklight photo.
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