In her review of the Henri Le Sidaner retrospective in 2014, the art critic, Laura Gascoigne wrote, Henri Le Sidaner was “a contemporary of the Post-Impressionists who painted in dots but was not a Pointillist, reveled in complementary colours but was not a Fauve; and drew a veil of dreams over reality but was not a Symbolist, or only briefly…When asked what school he belonged to, his own reply was: ‘None. But if you absolutely insist on categorizing me, I am an intimist.” (Laura Gascoigne, “Henri Le Sidaner: the artist who fell between two schools,” The Spectator, May 10, 2014). Indeed, any study of Le Sidaner reveals a predilection for intimate townscapes, interiors and garden scenes, tables set with porcelain teapots and soup tureens, flowers and fruit. The intimacy is of Le Sidaner’s own making as there are never guests; he is the host but never seen.
The convergence of so many different “isms” – Pointillism, Post-impressionism, Fauvism, Symbolism – which perhaps accidentally came together to form Le Sidaner’s “intimist” style - is a far cry from his earliest training with the premier Academic painter, Alexandre Cabanel in the early 1880s in Paris. Cabanel’s was a traditional style and technique that Le Sidaner abandoned to join an artists’ colony in Étaples in the Pas de Calais in northern France in 1882. Here, he worked in solitude for the next several years painting the landscape and peasantry of the region. For the remainder of his life his travels took him throughout France, to London, various regions in Italy and to medieval Bruges, where he produced many of his most beautiful and atmospheric works of the Beguinage along the quiet canal. In 1894, Le Sidaner purchased a country property in Gerberoy (Seine et Oise), where, together with a garden he designed to rival Monet’s Giverny, he painted his greatest late paintings.
Le Sidaner experienced both professional and commercial success throughout his career. He was accepted by the French art establishment and awarded the Légion d’honneur in 1913, signed a lucrative contract with Galerie Georges Petit and exhibited at major international exhibitions.