Burgundy landscape, 1905
Alphonse Legros (1837 - 1911)
RA Collection: Art
The drawing depicts trees and bushes along the banks of a river or canal with a flat misty landscape beyond. In the bottom left foreground two men are working, possibly cutting at the bushes or foraging, while to the right is a boat in the water, which probably belongs to the workers.
The location depicted is similar to other portrayals of Legros's native Burgundy, such as Paysage bourguignon, from the same year, 1905, and in the same medium (Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, reproduced in Timothy Wilcox, Alphonse Legros 1837-1911, exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, 1987, p. 13) and Canal avec un pêcheur (1868, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, reproduced ibid., p. 83). The straightness of the water line, bisecting the picture plane, suggests that it could depict a canal, possibly the Burgundy Canal or somewhere like Amiens in northern France, the canal and marshland of which Legros depicted in Près d'Amiens: Les Tourbières (reproduced in Alphonse Legros 1837-1911, exh. cat., Grosvenor Galleries, London, 1922, pl. XLVII).
The draughtsman, printmaker and painter, Alphonse Legros, was born in Dijon, France in 1837. He studied in Paris where he met Henri de Fantin-Latour and James Abbott McNeill Whistler, with whom he shared a dedication to the realist work of Gustave Courbet as well as a commitment to etching (particularly in the case of Legros and Whistler). Together they formed the Société des Trois.
Whistler first took Legros to London in 1861 and he soon moved there and began regularly exhibiting at such galleries as the Royal Academy. In 1876 he became professor at the Slade School of Fine Art where he emphasised good draughtsmanship (he left in 1893). Legros became a naturalised British citizen in 1880 and that year he was also a founder-member of the Society of Painter-Etchers.
The work is one of several by Legros that Carel Weight RA owned, three of which were left to the Royal Academy as part of his bequest (the current work, 03/2010 and 03/2011).
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