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Henri-Joseph Harpignies, River and Hills

Key facts
Full title River and Hills
Artist Henri-Joseph Harpignies
Artist dates 1819 - 1916
Date made about 1850-60
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 27.3 × 44.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Hans Velten to the Tate Gallery, 1931; transferred, 1956
Inventory number NG4582
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
River and Hills
Henri-Joseph Harpignies

A man stands on the winding path beneath the dark, forbidding cliffs. He gazes out across the river, his white cap, coat and backpack lifting the bleakness of the cliffs behind him. High above him, the sun catches a strange construction on the cliff top and crosses the gap between the two halves of the picture, to the mellow glow of the far hillside. On the far bank of the river, poplar trees grow in grey, gravelly soil, their reflections perfect in the still water.

Harpignies met Camille Corot in Rome and became his friend and follower. On his return to France, he put aside the gritty, modernist subjects of the Barbizon artists he had spent some time with. He chose to follow Corot’s path, using the classical style of landscape painting associated with Rome, with a smooth, delicate technique and people and nature in harmony.

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