Originally from north-eastern France, Léon Augustin L’Hermitte moved to Paris in time to attend the Salon des Refuses in 1863, and while studying at the École des Beaux Arts he gained recognition after his show in the Paris Salon in 1874. His many awards include the French Legion of Honour (1884) and the Grand Prize at the Exposition Universelle in 1889. His paintings are indebted to the beauty of the Barbizon landscape painters, such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and to the subtle strength of the French realists, such as Jean François Millet and Julien Dupré.

L’Hermitte’s innovative use of pastels won him the admiration of his contemporaries. Vincent van Gogh wrote that “If every month Le Monde Illustré published one of his compositions … it would be a great pleasure for me to be able to follow it. It is certain that for years I have not seen anything as beautiful as this scene by Lhermitte … I am too preoccupied by Lhermitte this evening to be able to talk of other things.”