Written by Jocelyn Boigenzahn, Curatorial Intern
Henri- Joseph Harpignies was a French painter and printmaker, who made a late in life debut in the Salon in 1853. Harpignies showed an affinity for nature and took a special interest in the rendering of trees to such a point that Anatole France, a great writer of the period, named him the Michelangelo of trees. In a direct statement to the other French artists working in other styles who rejected the associations that Italy had with the classical tradition of the Salon and the cradle of true landscape painting, Harpignies wrote (quoted in Bailly-Herzberg, Janine, L’Art du Paysage de l’Atelier au Plein Air, Paris: Flammarion, 2000, pg. 176):
“Ah, makers of pigs’ ponds and of boatmen, intransigent realists, painters of the banks of the Marne and of the Oise and other trite everyday subjects, come and see the valley of Poussin… there you will see real landscapes.”
In 1900, he obtained the Grand Prix at the Exposition Universelle, where his talent was represented by a series of oil and watercolor landscapes and is to today noted as one of the master Impressionist artists of the 19th Century alongside Monet and Manet.