Henri Le Sidaner 

Henri Le Sidaner 

Biography of Henri Le Sidaner  ( 1862-1939 )

I have the most beautiful garden in the world, and I don't need a gardener.

Henri Le Sidaner was born in Mauritius, where his father, a long-distance captain, was stationed at the time. He was a great French painter of the post-impressionist generation. The family returned to France in 1872 and despite their Breton origins, they settled in Dunkirk. Under the impulse of their mother, the children received an artistic education. Henri's four sisters took up music while he took up drawing. He was admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1882 where he entered the studio of Alexandre Cabanel who would support his pupil throughout his life.
The young man was disturbed by the works of Manet, which he discovered upon his arrival in Paris in 1880, and quickly became disillusioned with the academic teaching provided at the Beaux-Arts. In 1885, he left Paris and decided to settle in Étaples, on the Opal Coast, a place frequented by many painters.

Henri Le Sidaner became one of the leaders of the artistic colony of Étaples, which flourished in an eclectic post-impressionist movement. He produced paintings with rather realistic subjects. He made several trips to France, Italy and Holland in 1892 where he painted mainly landscapes and nature that he scrupulously observed throughout the seasons. He became friends with many artists, including the Norwegian Fritz Thaulow, a specialist in snow landscapes.

In 1894, Henri Le Sidaner returned to Paris and turned to symbolism. He was particularly interested in the effects of light observed at dusk or in moonlight. The poet Emile Verhaeren and the writer Camille Mauclair were part of his inner circle. His works were exhibited at the Galerie Georges Petit in 1895, at the Galerie Mancini in 1897 and at the Libre Esthétique in Brussels in 1898.
Ever more attracted by the creative spirit that was then radiating in Belgium, Henri Le Sidaner settled in Bruges between 1898 and 1900 with his companion Camille Navarre. There, his style blending symbolism and impressionism blossomed and revealed itself in the realization of works as intimate as they were poetic.

From 1900 Henri Le Sidaner was represented exclusively by the Georges Petit gallery. He was then in a period of great creative activity and painted up to thirty pictures a year. His style, now mature, borrowed from divisionism and pointillism.
Deeply attracted by the landscapes of the Ile-de-France region, which he had always admired, Henri Le Sidaner bought a house and a garden in Gerberoy in the Oise region. There, in his search for the intimate moment, he found a unique inspiration and submitted to the Salon views of the little town, architectural elements of his house such as its white façade, its shutters, or its garden. Finally, he will paint interior motifs with an open window, tables in the garden that the guests have just left, a bench, flowerbeds. Gerberoy's paintings emanate an incomparable sweetness of life in the subtlety of the half-tones he uses. The absence of human figures expresses not so much solitude as the mystery of time passing, creating a kind of spirituality in connection with nature.

Henri Le Sidaner's painting seduced a large French and Anglo-Saxon public. He exhibited all over the world, notably in 1914, in an entire room at the Venice Biennale, went to Pittsburgh in 1921 for the Carnegie Institute exhibition and joined a traveling exhibition in 1929 in the United States. In Paris, the Galerie Charpentier devoted a special exhibition to him in 1933 and in 1939.
The painter was awarded numerous official honors, becoming an Officer of the Legion of Honor in 1914, an associate member of the Royal Academy of Belgium in 1929, a member of the Academy of Fine Arts in 1930, and then president in 1937.

Henri le Sidaner enjoyed immense success until the end of his life. His works, which have received numerous awards, are now exhibited in a hundred or so major museums in the United States, Japan, France, Belgium, Spain and the United Kingdom.


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