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A Farmhouse

A Farmhouse, 1875

Henri-Joseph Harpignies
French, 1819-1916
Oil on canvas
11 x 16-1/4 in. (28 x 41.3 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

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Although Henri-Joseph Harpignies did not dedicate himself to painting until the age of twenty-seven, his exceptionally long life allowed him to develop his craft over three quarters of a century. Early visits to northern Europe and Italy had a profound effect on him, and he was particularly inspired by the grand tradition of landscape painting he experienced there. Indeed, it was not long after these trips that Harpignies granted the genre the full focus of his career. Despite these visits abroad, Harpignies was most influenced by the works of his accomplished countryman Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, who was similarly moved by northern European and Italian landscapes, and who coincidentally died the year "A Farmhouse" was completed. This painting is an excellent example of Harpignies’s assimilations of the older artist’s techniques. The vernacular architecture of central France is captured in bold, geometric strokes, and yet its directness is rendered with a remarkably subtle attention to light. Like Corot, too, Harpignies brings about a sense of calm in his compositions. Here, the absolute stillness of the water is established by the undisturbed reflection of the Norman-style farmhouse. The only suggestion of movement is given by the boat, which leaves just the slightest trace of wake, rendering it, too, frozen in time.

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