Léon Augustin Lhermitte (French, 1844-1925)
Lunch at the Cerverie Farm, 1895
Charcoal and brown pastel on paper, 17 3/4 x 23 1/2 in.
The 19th-century Catholic Church’s equation of poverty with spirituality informed one of Lhermitte’s most remarkable works, Among the Humble (1905, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), which, recalling the Supper at Emmaus, depicts Christ sharing a meal in the home of a French peasant. The present drawing is a less literal variant on the same theme: the spiritual presence is evoked by light streaming through a window, illuminating the modest country interior. Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), who considered Lhermitte one of the great masters of charcoal drawing, understood the essence of images like this one, observing that in his work “all reality is also at the same time symbolic.”