Henri Joseph HARPIGNIES (Valenciennes 1819 - Saint-Privé 1916)
A Stream in an Arid Landscape
Watercolour, pen and grey ink and grey wash.
Signed h. harpignies 1912 at the lower right.
Numbered 8117 in blue chalk on the verso, and 212 on a printed label pasted onto the verso.
151 x 226 mm. (6 x 8 7/8 in.)
In 1898 the critic G. Frederic Lees wrote that ‘Harpignies...[has] the power of producing the most powerful effects by teints unies; his sobriety of colour, breadth of treatment, firmness of touch, and precision of drawing placing him in the front rank of water-colour artists.’
Eighteen years later, in an article published shortly after the artist’s death, the same writer opined that ‘As a water-colour artist, Harpignies was without a rival in France. His work in this branch of art cannot be too highly praised, for whilst attaining pre-eminence he proved himself to be a veritable pioneer. Having worked incessantly at water-colours for fourteen years, he at last decided to exhibit them for the first time at the 1864 Salon, and although only a chosen few may have immediately recognised how beautifully fresh and limpid these little works were – how different from the weak and finicking productions of the water-colourists of the Second Empire – it was not long before others were taking their inspiration from him. As one of the forerunners, if not the founder, of the modern school of water-colour painting in France, his work was much appreciated abroad, especially in England and the United States.’
Despite his increasing fame and success, Harpignies seems to have remained at heart a man of simple tastes, committed to his art. As Agnes Mongan has written, ‘Clearly, his happiness was in recording, whether in drawings, watercolor, or paint, the landscapes he saw around him…his ninety-seven years were productive of a large number of landscapes in a variety of media that have delighted and continue to delight those who enjoy their sensitive and particular artistic qualities.’
This drawing was included in the 1947 Arts Council exhibition of drawings and watercolours by Harpignies.
Arnold & Tripp, Paris (Lugt 3279)
Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York
H. A. Robinson, London, by 1947
Private collection, Scotland.