As a child, French painter and etcher Leon Augustin L'hermitte was frequently ill. To pass the time the bedridden child would copy illustrations and engravings in popular French magazines. A neighbor happened to see some of the boy's work and showed them to the Minister of Fine Arts. This single event would set L'hermitte on the path to great professional success and admiration.
The drawings would earn him a scholarship, and he would begin his education �cole Imp�riale de Dessin in Paris in 1863. Here, during his second year, he submitted a charcoal drawing to the Paris Salon. The work was accepted and drew much attention, which was remarkable considering L'hermitte was only nineteen years old.
He would work in various media throughout his career, but focused primarily on the use of charcoal, oil and pastel. It was his frequent use of pastels that brought him a great deal of respect from contemporaries such as Vincent Van Gogh. He rarely departed from his typical subject matter of rural French scenes, full of honest laborers and peasants. The harmony of his images never sacrificed truth, and his later canvases would show the increasing industrialization of the countryside, and the dignity of those who inhabited it.
He owed a debt to the Barbizon school of landscape painting as well as to the Realists who all pre-dated him. He was the last of the French rural painters, adhering to a tradition of images heavily influenced by the countryside. He died in 1925.
His many awards included the French Legion of Honour and the Grand Prize at the Exposition Universelle in 1889. Many of his works are in the collections of major museums around the world including Boston, Washington, Chicago, Montreal, Brussels, Rheims, Paris, Moscow and Florence.