Monday, August 26, 2019

"Les Halles" - Leon Lhermitte - Petit Palais, Paris, France

It's wonderful to be back in Paris. We visited the Petit Palais for the first time, and as always, I'm in awe of the scale of the works on display. The painting below by Léon Lhermitte is over thirteen feet tall. Kimberly had to stand at the opposite side of the hall to photograph the entire piece.

"Les Halles"
 • Léon Lhermitte
 • 1895
 • Oil on Canvas
 • 404 x 635 cm
The painting was originally created for the Paris City Hall, but was moved to the Petit Palais in 1904. It was rolled up and stored for more than eighty years, and only recently restored after the turn of the 21st century.

It is a beautiful example of a painter using vectors to lead our eye through a cacophonous scene. The vectors are created by many elements in the scene, the direction of arms and hands, the lines of crates and baskets, but especially by the gazes of the individual figures. Each figure looks towards another and slowly leads us through all of the engagements happening throughout the painting.

The canvas is thinly painted and there are areas where you can just barely make out charcoal marks beneath the paint. Lhermitte almost certainly created a number of studies and drawings on a small scale and then enlarged the entire composition by using a proportional grid.


"Les Halles"
 Detail • Léon Lhermitte
 • 1895 
• Oil on Canvas
 • 404 x 635 cm
Look at the thin layers of paint used to describe large passages of the painting such as this figure's shawl. Slightly thicker paint, but still fairly thin has been used in the face and hands. The basket to the right of the face is made up of extremely thin washes of color. If you look just above the center of the apples, you can see one of the charcoal grid lines.

"Les Halles"
 Detail • Léon Lhermitte
 • 1895 
• Oil on Canvas
 • 404 x 635 cm
This figure is striking in its appearance of detail, yet as you move closer in the following images, it is simply and thinly painted.

"Les Halles"
 Detail • Léon Lhermitte
 • 1895 
• Oil on Canvas
 • 404 x 635 cm
The dress is created by utilizing only two tones of paint, and while the face has a more rendered appearance, it is still simply executed and not over-rendered.

"Les Halles"
 Detail • Léon Lhermitte
 • 1895 
• Oil on Canvas
 • 404 x 635 cm
While the basket of chickens appears carefully rendered from a distance, on closer inspection, it is simply thin washes of paint, and like many other areas of the painting, almost the raw canvas. I have to imagine that working at this scale, it takes an extreme discipline to say so much with so little.

Photos by Kimberly at Saunders Fine Arts.
 


© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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