Artwork Detail

La moisson (The Harvest)
French, 1844–1925
Oil on canvas
92 x 104 5/16 "
University purchase, Parsons Fund, 1912
WU 2707
Exhibited at the French Salon of 1883 and the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris, and reproduced in numerous newspapers and periodicals, Léon-Augustin Lhermitte’s La moisson was the most celebrated of his scenes of rural life. The third in a series of six paintings heroicizing peasant laborers, Lhermitte’s large canvas is executed in a version of the Realist style of painting developed in the mid-nineteenth century that portrayed rural peasantry and the lower classes with the dignity and seriousness of academic historical, allegorical, and religious painting. With a close, monumental focus on the figures absorbed in their work in the field, Lhermitte’s painting meticulously documents the customs, dress, and tools of the region around Mont-Saint-Père at the time. Images like this delighted urban middle-class audiences who envisioned a simple, more “primitive” rural life as a reprieve from their daily routines. Initially political in intention, later realist images such as this one presented a harmonious ideal of a bountiful, peaceful world that overlooks the real hardships and plights of the lower classes. [Permanent collection label, 2016]