Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Among the Humble

Léon-Augustin Lhermitte (French, Mont Saint-Père 1844–1925 Paris)
Oil on canvas
104 3/4 x 90 in. (266.1 x 228.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1905
Accession Number:
Not on view
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): L.Lhermitte / 1905
[Boussod, Valadon & Cie., Paris, 1905; stock no. 28505; bought from the artist on June 30 and sold the same day for Fr 40,000 to Schaus]; [William Schaus Gallery, New York, 1905; sold on November 21 to MMA]
Paris. Salon. 1905, no. 818 (as "Chez les humbles").

Léon-Augustin Lhermitte. Letter [to The Metropolitan Museum of Art]. August 11, 1905 [English transl. published in "Catalogue of the Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," New York, 1905, unpaginated], describes his intention to depict Christ as "eternal consoler of the poor" and notes that the execution of this picture "has occupied nearly all of last year".

"'Christ Among the Lowly': The Latest Acquisition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art." New York Times (December 24, 1905), p. X8, ill. p. 1 (pictorial section), calls it "Christ in the Home of the Lowly" in the caption and "Christ Among the Lowly" in the text; relates the popularity of this picture at the Salon of 1905; states that the dealer Hermann Schaus purchased it at the Salon [see Ex-Colls].

"A New Christ Picture: The Metropolitan Gets the Last Example of Lhermitte's Work." New York Times (December 5, 1905), p. 5, as "Among the Lowly"; calls it Lhermitte's last important work.

Eugène Morand. "Les Salons de 1905 (1er article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 3rd ser., 33 (May 1, 1905), pp. 363–64, ill., calls it one of the most successful pictures at the Salon; asserts that it recalls Rembrandt and compares it to Fritz von Uhde's "Le Christ chez les paysans" (1887–88; Musée d'Orsay, Paris).

Maurice Hamel. "Les Salons de 1905, Société nationale des Beaux-Arts." Les Arts no. 41 (May 1905), pp. 22–23.

Maurice Guillemot. "Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts: La Peinture." L'Art et les artistes 1 (April–September 1905), p. 55, ill.

"Latest Acquisition for New York Metropolitan Museum of Art." New York Herald (December 7, 1905), notes that the MMA purchased it through Hermann Schaus.

"Event and Comment." Congregationalist and Christian World 91 (February 10, 1906), p. 185, ill. on front cover, as "Christ in the Home of the Lowly".

"The Metropolitan Museum." Collector and Art Critic 4 (January 1906), p. 72, calls it "Christ among the Lowly" and states that it was acquired by the MMA through Herman [sic] Schaus.

William Walton. "The Field of Art: Some Unecclesiastical Religious Art." Scribner's Magazine 39 (April 1906), p. 509, ill. p. 511.

Louis Gillet. "Le Salon de 1924." Le Gaulois (May 1, 1924), p. 3.

Jean Lhermitte. "Un Peintre champenois... Léon Lhermitte (1844–1929) [sic]." La Vie en Champagne (June 1957), p. 26.

Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, XIX Century. New York, 1966, pp. 205–6, ill., call it "Christ Visiting the Poor" and note the influence of Millet.

Carl R. Baldwin. The Impressionist Epoch. Exh. brochure, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. [New York], 1974, p. 23.

Mary Michele Hamel. Léon Lhermitte. Exh. cat., Paine Art Center & Arboretum. Oshkosh, 1974, pp. 20, 30.

Monique Le Pelley Fonteny in Bilder sind nicht verboten: Kunstwerke seit der Mitte des 19.Jahrhunderts mit ausgewählten Kultgeräten aus dem Zeitalter der Aufklärung. Exh. cat., Städtische Kunthalle Düsseldorf. Düsseldorf, 1982, p. 250.

Richard R. Brettell and Caroline B. Brettell. Painters and Peasants in the Nineteenth Century. Geneva, 1983, p. 96, ill., call it "Christ Visiting the Poor"; discuss it as a reminder that in the nineteenth century "the peasant was naturally religious," adding that "it would be difficult for us to imagine a similar scene in a bourgeois or an aristocratic home".

Monique Le Pelley Fonteny and Gabriel P. Weisberg. Léon Lhermitte (1844–1925). Ed. Ivo Kirschen. Exh. cat., Galerie Michael. Beverly Hills, 1989, unpaginated, under no. 41.

Monique Le Pelley Fonteny. Léon Augustin Lhermitte (1844–1925). Paris, 1991, pp. 61–62, 111, 120, 181–82, 228, 242, 245, 306, 426–27, 506, 513, no. 89, ill. p. 120 and pls. 46, 48, reproduces photographs of this painting in progress and catalogues several ink, pencil, and pastel studies (pastel nos. 106, 110, 472, 487, 998; drawing nos. 571–76); identifies the family as that of Lhermitte's gardener, Louis Nourry, his wife Hortense Nourry, and their children, noting that the standing girl was Charlotte Nourry, the goddaughter of the artist's son, Charles Lhermitte; comments that the scene takes place in the "maison d'en haut," Lhermitte's studio in the village of Mont-Saint-Père.

Richard Thomson. "Book Reviews: Léon Augustin Lhermitte (1844–1925). Catalogue raisonné." Burlington Magazine 134 (October 1992), p. 673, queries whether Lhermitte was inspired to portray Christ among the rural poor in this picture and "Supper at Emmaus" (1892; MFA, Boston) by contemporary "efforts to harmonise relations between Church and Third Republic".

Dorine Cardyn-Oomen in Tranches de vie: Le naturalisme en Europe, 1875–1915. Exh. cat., Musée Royal des Beaux-Arts d'Anvers. Ghent, 1996, p. 254.

Le Pelley Fonteny (1991) catalogues five pastels and six ink and pencil studies for this picture, some with variations in the composition (all in private collections; pastel nos. 106, 110, 472, 487, 998; drawing nos. 571–76).

The models for the peasant family were Lhermitte's gardener, Louis Nourry (1863–1915), his wife, Hortense Nourry (1867–1940), and their daughters.
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