Leon-Augustin L’hermitte

Posted on

We have probably all done it from time to time; we look upon a people or time nostalgically, admiring a simpler time and the hardened character of its people.

The work of painter Jean-Francois Millet (1814-1875) represented the life of the French peasant in a powerful, gritty, sober, matter-of-fact way. His work played a major part in influencing the life and work of Leon Augustin Lhermitte (Lur-meet), 30 years his junior. (Click images to enlarge)

Leon-Augustin L’hermitte


Lhermitte (1844-1925) was born in Mont Saint Pere, a small village northeast of Paris. Because he grew up in the country among peasants and farm life, his attachment to, knowledge of, and love for French rural life ran deep. Naturally, depicting these subjects would become his life’s work.

“Haymakers” – Oil

“Le Reveil du Faucheur” – 30.5″ x 39.75″ – Oil

“A Rest from the Harvest” – 36″ x 50″ – Oil


His aptitude for drawing appeared early, catching the attention of a local merchant who encouraged and supported Lhermitte’s art training in Paris. At the age of 19, he enrolled in the Ecole Imperiale de Dessin.

By the age of 20 (1864), his incredible talent got him into his first Paris Salon show and he exhibited there almost every year until his death in 1925. His work ethic must have been incredible as he worked as an etcher and illustrator and was a master of oil, watercolor, pastel, charcoal, etching and printmaking.

“Breton Peasants Buying Fruit at Landerneau” – 15″ x 11″ – Charcoal on paper

“Les Glaneuses” – 13″ x 16.75″ – Pastel


His work was more popular and reached a wider audience, during the late 1800s, than any other painter of peasant life…most likely because he devoted much of his energy to drawing and printmaking; these images were widely circulated through magazines and books. Van Gogh described Lhermitte as the Millet and Breton of black and white.

“La Famille” – 100.75″ x 137″ – Oil (1908)

“Supper at Emmaus” – 61″ x 87.75″ – Oil


The Parisian middle class of the day soaked up images of peasant life. The peasant’s life represented an ideology…a nation that appreciated and honored physical labor and hard work…the bulwork of its social order, and a national blessing. The fact that work was hard made its gains so much more rewarding. Images of peasant exhaustion were not necessarily negative, rather, the rigors of honest work was celebrated.


Reference for this article: Painters and Peasants in the Nineteenth Century by Richard and Caroline Brettell.

Thanks to the Art Renewal Center for the images.

***If you would like to receive this weekly blog automatically, please complete the simple form on the bottom right of this page. To receive my monthly newsletter complete the form on the top right. Thank You.

I’m pleased to offer both of my instructional videos and book as a complete set for the first time. They may also be purchased individually. All are best sellers and include everything I’ve taught in my workshops. You can now take my oil painting workshop right in the comfort of your home, and for a lot less money than physically being present. (Click image to learn more)

For those that have purchased the book, I invite you to join our new Facebook Group – “Limited Palette Unlimited Color”. If you qualify, I hope you’ll join us. Check us out on Facebook. HERE is the link.


Want to take your painting to the next level? I can help. Click HERE to learn about my critique/mentoring programs.


John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Living Master. To view his art and bio, please click HERE



Please Note - You must be logged into a Facebook account in order to write comments. We highly recommend using Google Chrome, Fire Fox, or Internet Explorer since some individuals have not been able to leave comments on the Safari browser. If you have any issues, please email me.