Henri Le Sidaner (French, 1939)

After spending the first years of his life in the West Indies, Henri Le Sidaner (French, 1862–1939) returned to France with his family in 1872. He began art studies in 1877 with history painter Alexandre Desmit (French, 1812–1885) in Dunkerque, and, in 1882, entered Alexandre Cabanel’s atelier at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. From 1882 to 1893, Le Sidaner often retreated to Etaples. The stern coastal landscape of the northern town appealed to the young artist, who suffered under the Ecole’s dictum of copying pictures in the Louvre. Le Sidaner explained that “Etaples—that is to say, nature—revived me,” and that city provided many themes for his en plein air works.

Le Sidaner began exhibiting at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1887. His naturalistic figural groups set in Etaples were well received, and won him trips to Italy and Holland in 1891. Three years later, he exhibited Impressionist works influenced by Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926) at the less conservative Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. From around 1896 to the end of the century, Le Sidaner painted symbolist themes in which pensive, virginal women dressed in white inhabit dimly-lit gardens. In these paintings, which recall the early canvases of his friend Henri Martin (French, 1860–1943), Le Sidaner initiated the aura of mystery and the divisionist technique characteristic of his late work.

After the turn of the century, Le Sidaner rarely portrayed the human figure. Instead, he depicted the provincial setting of Bruges, Beauvais, and Chartres, as well as urban areas, such as London and Venice. Images of the gardens and interior of his home in Gerberoy, where he resided from 1901 or 1902, also are prevalent in later works. He did, however, often imply human presence in a set table or an open book, adding to the intimate yet mysterious quality of his paintings.

Like his close friends Martin and Ernest Laurent (French, 1859–1929), Le Sidaner was associated with Neo-Impressionism only tenuously, and tempered its techniques with an otherwise traditional approach. He enjoyed continued favor, and from 1897 until his death, was regularly honored with solo shows, not only in Paris, but also in London, Brussels, and the United States. In 1930 he was made a professor at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, replacing Laurent, and, in 1937, was named its president.

Timeline

1862
Born on the island of Mauritius
1871
Relocated with his family to Dunkirk
1880
Relocated to Paris
1882
Admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Artes
1885
After several years of study under Alexandre Cabanel, he became influenced by the work of Edouard Manet
1900
Visited and later purchased a house in the village of Gerberoy (Siene et Oise), thus inspiring many of his paintings to follow
1939
Died
Le Sidaner travelled extensively throughout his life, visiting Holland, Belgium, Venice, London and New York; he also moved constantly throughout France.
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 his beautiful still lifes.
He exhibited at the Paris Salon, the Galeries Georges Petit in Paris and the Goupil Gallery in London.
Although the work of Henri Le Sidaner appears to be impervious to the artistic changes taking place at the beginning of the twentieth century he was not totally unaffected by the development of Impressionism and neo-Impressionism.
His work is very much in the realist style but at the same time evocative and poetic, if combines a dreamy quality with a technical expertise and his atmospheric paintings, whether they be landscapes or still lifes, are symptomatic of his unique personal vision.

Exhibitions

1982
Amarillo Art Center, Texas, 1982, Early French Moderns, no. 28
1968
Galleries Maurice Sternberg, Chicago, 1968, Le Sidaner, no. 29
1952
Galerie Lorenceau, 1952, Tables et fenêtres by H. Le Sidaner, no. 29
1951
Galeries d’art Belge, Brussels, Belgium, 1951, Retrospective Le Sidaner, no. 23
1921
International Exhibition of Paintings, as The Cradle, 1921, Salle Le Sidaner, no. 183
1907
Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1907
1905
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1905

Public Collections

Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.
Detroit Intsitute of the Arts, Detroit, MI
Musee d’Art Modern, Paris, France
Museum of Modern Art, Rome, Italy
Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, OK
Ashmolean Musem, Oxford, UK
Phoenix Art Musem, Phoenix , AZ
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco,CA
The Tate Collection, London, UK