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Henri Eugène Le Sidaner

 

The young Le Sidaner (1862–1939) moved around a great deal, but his paintings continued to depict the same subject: urban scenes bathed in mist. The few human figures in his works are deep in thought, indifferent to their surroundings. The paintings’ heightened silence arouses in the viewer a sense that there is emotion beneath the surface.

Le Sidaner was born in Port Louis, Mauritius, the son of a French ship’s agent. In 1872 the family moved to Dunkirk and Le Sidaner had drawing lessons at the local art school. In 1882 he moved to Paris, and trained under Alexandre Cabanel at the École des Beaux-Arts while preferring to copy works in the Louvre.

He then joined an artists’ colony in Etaples, before travelling to Italy and the Netherlands on a scholarship. In 1894 he returned to Paris, where the musician Gabriel Fabre introduced him to his circle of Symbolist writers and critics. He also illustrated two of Fabre’s scores based on texts by the Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck. In 1894 he began exhibiting at the Société Nationale in Paris and, in 1898, with La Libre Esthétique in Brussels. The same year he met the Belgian poet Emile Verhaeren, who became a lifelong friend.

Le Sidaner moved about a great deal, living and working in Bruges, Beauvais, Versailles and finally the village of Gerberoy, where he remained for the rest of his life.