Louis Marie Lemaire (1824 – 1910)
Peonies in Bloom
Oil on Canvas
45.5 in x 35.5 in (116 x 90 cm)
Joy, splendour and naturalism dominates the work of Louis Marie Lemaire, who distinguished himself as a painter of landscapes, animals and flowers. He was born in 1824 at Paris, where he later became a pupil of Jules Dupré, (one of the chief members of the Barbizon school of landscape painters) and also under Auguste Boulard senior, who also favoured rural landscapes and interestingly had himself trained under Dupré as well as Leon Cogniet. Louis Marie Lemaire made his debut at the Paris Salon in 1849 and because of his repute later became a member of the Salon des Artistes Français. Awarded a first class medal at the 1855 Exposition Universelle, he then received an honourable mention in 1883 and the following year a third class medal at the Salon des Artistes Français. Further accolades came when he gained an honourable mention at the Exposition Universelle of 1889 as well as a second class medal in 1899.
In addition to finished still-lifes, both in oil and pastel, Lemaire executed a number of designs for wallpapers and made artificial flowers and as such understood every nuance of botanical detail. In this very fine and particularly large still life he has portrayed a magnificent display of pink and yellow perennial peonies interspersed by forget-me-nots. One can almost smell the pungent fragrance from the brightly coloured blooms, which are perfectly offset by the deep lobed foliage described in a blend of greens and autumnal hues.
As a pupil of Jules Dupré, Lemaire likewise painted a number of Barbizon landscapes, especially forests at twilight. He also painted a number of coastal scenes at sunset and regularly visited such resorts as Berck, Cayeux, Étretat (where Monet also painted) and further south at Villerville near Le Havre. Of all the places that Lemaire visited, he favoured the scenery of the Oise Valley and L’Isle-Adam, where he executed many vibrant and naturalistic landscapes for which he has been credited as one of the most authentic representatives of the landscape school of the Oise Valley. In 1862 Lemaire settled more permanently there when he moved to a house called Les Arcades in the historic town of Parmain. Later the mayor of Parmain was presented with one of Lemaire’s floral pastels. Other works by this remarkable artist can be found in the museums of Compiègne, Pontoise, Rouen, Agen and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.