Henri Le Sidaner was born in Mauritius and moved to Paris at the age of 18, becoming a pupil of Cabanel at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1884.Le Sidaner exhibited in Paris for the first time in 1887 at the Salon des Artistes Français. He also exhibited in Paris at the Salon de la Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts and in 1930 was appointed a member of the Institut at the Academie des Beaux-Arts.
In 1900 he visited the tiny village of Gerberoy (Seine-et-Oise) where he later bought the house which became the inspiration for many of his paintings and where he painted many of his beautiful still lifes. He described the town as a “haven of peace” and also described it as being “seeped in history and gentle nostalgia.” This is probably due to its crucial location both during the battles between the Normans and the English in the 11th Century, and the Hundred Years’ War in the 14th and 15th Century.
Le Sidaner was interested in, and influenced by, the colour theories and pointillism of Neo-Impressionism that the 1900s brought with it. More specifically, the style of Eugene Carrière (which is characterised by indeterminate colours and a taste for a certain misty atmosphere) was admired by Le Sidaner and the piece seen here can be regarded as a development of Carrière’s technique. The focus for both Sidaner and Carrière was on light and how it could be shown on canvas to give objects a three dimensional effect as well as a sensation of calm and of atmosphere. The painting here causes one to reflect on the essence of stillness and the beauty that light creates, when time and light seem to be diffused.
He worked in the realist style, but his love of penumbra and twilight create a poetic and dreamy quality to his technical expertise. There is also undoubtedly an influence of optics on Le Sidaner’s work. The atmosphere of his paintings, whether they are landscapes or still lifes result from both his delicate style of painting and his choice of subjects.