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Henri-Joseph Harpignies, Autumn Evening

Key facts
Full title Autumn Evening
Artist Henri-Joseph Harpignies
Artist dates 1819 - 1916
Date made 1894
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 116.8 × 160 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Pandeli Ralli, 1928
Inventory number NG6325
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Autumn Evening
Henri-Joseph Harpignies

The sombre colours and dying glow of the evening light in this rustic landscape evoke autumn, the inevitable passage of time and a certain melancholy. Leaves on the cluster of poplar trees are crisp and beginning to turn brown. On the scrubby grass beneath the trees, a few dabs of paint suggest late blooming flowers or perhaps leaves already fallen.

We don’t know where the scene is set. It’s most likely to be from Harpignies’ imagination, but based on his knowledge of and affection for the countryside of the Yonne, the area south of Paris that he visited often and where he lived in his retirement. Harpignies was familiar with the gritty realism of contemporary landscape but, influenced by the classical artists of seventeenth-century Rome, he preferred to portray nature in a state of harmony.

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