An uncompromising talent, Henri Le Sidaner pursued his unique personal vision throughout a long and prolific career. Though strongly influenced by the Impressionist movement, Le Sidaner’s oeuvre defies strict classification of style. His constant and overriding ambition was to capture on canvas the effects of light, an interest shared by the Impressionist painters. However, his landscapes and still lifes all have a dreamy, otherworldly quality that indicates the hand of a true individualist.
Born on the island of Mauritius, Le Sidaner’s family moved to Dunkirk when he was ten. There he pursued a budding interest in painting by attending local drawing classes. After his father’s death in 1880 he moved to Paris and was admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He studied under Alexandre Cabanel, who was very opposed to the work of the avant-garde artists who were referred to as the “Impressionists.” This attitude, which Le Sidaner considered archaic and stilted, contributed to his breaking away from Cabanel’s studio and his move to Etaples, where he began to develop the painting technique that was to become his own personal style.
Le Sidaner spent a good deal of his time traveling, capturing ephemeral scenes of Venice, Belgium, Holland, London and various locales in France on canvas. One of his favorite subjects was the cottage and its gardens that he purchased in the village of Gerberoy. The artist had been searching for a spot where he could fulfill a desire to plant an extraordinary garden. When he visited Gerberoy in 1901, upon the recommendation of the sculptor Auguste Rodin, he knew immediately that he had found his haven. He established an extensive garden there that included terraced beds with numerous varieties of flowers. The house, gardens and terraces became inspiration for many of his most personal and poetic works.