JULIEN LE BLANT (FRENCH, 1851-1936) ANTIQUE PAINTING ON PANEL
"Le Billet de Logement" c. 1890, Signed lower right "J. Le Blant"
Item # 1406NRE12P
This is an exceptional work in oil on panel depicting with vivid color and perfect detail a pair of soldiers delivering a billet to a fellow countryman. Both soldiers appear positively weary with exhaustion, dirty and sweating from the heat as the older gentleman digests the meaning of the words on paper. The rest of the background fades away from this moment, only hinting at the surfaces of the rural village huts in the background and the meandering path upon which chickens freely range, while at the forefront all three figures are absolutely crisp with life and intense expression. Every aspect of the soldiers and figure are captured with clarity, from their earrings to the scarred and pocked features of the older figure, the worn and muddy feet and legs of the soldiers and the complexity of their packs and arms. The scene is intense, yet so peaceful and nostalgic in the romantic setting of the countryside.
The billet is an administrative act issued by the mayor of a municipality, requiring the resident in question to house and sometimes feed or otherwise maintain passing military. This is more typical in situations where the city or village lack proper barracks for accommodating the soldiers. This work can also be seen catalogued on www.leblant.com, an outstanding resource on known works and accomplishments of Julien LeBlant by Dominique Formaz.
Julien Le Blant studied under E. Girard and made his debut at Salon in 1874. His work was regularly recognized, ultimately receiving the gold medal at the 1889 Exposition Universelle. He was also made Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur in 1885. The body of his work largely focuses on military scenes, particularly of the French Revolution, but also scenes of the First World War later in life. He completed hundreds of illustrations for a great number of books, including Les Chouans (Honoré de Balzac), Chevalier des Touches (Barbey d'Aurevilly), and Premier Grenadier de France (Paul Dérouléde) to name a few. His work is held in major museum collections and institutions around the world.
For serious collectors of militarism and of the Romantic painters of the period, this is a simply outstanding investment grade selection. Works by Julien Le Blant very rarely make their way to the the open market, the last work being offered by Louis J. Dianni in September of 2010 achieved $12,980. The present example is deeply moving, executed with extraordinary care and remains in a very fine state of preservation.
- Musée de Mulhouse, France - The Regiment's Return
- Musée de Nantes, France - Death of General d'Elbee
- Musée de Troyes, France - The Battle of Fére Champenoise
Further Reading and Notes:
- E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, vol. VIII, Gründ, p. 588-9
- Popular Nineteenth Century Painting: A Dictionary of European Genre Painters, Hook and Poltimore, p. 418 and p. 424
Measurements: 28 11/16" W x 21 1/2" H [frame]; 22 1/2" W x 15" H
Professionally cleaned by our conservator recently - light craquelure to surface, but she did not restore this as the painted surface is completely free of inpainting and remains entirely original. Bright and vivid. Frame is probably original and remains in excellent condition (dirty and tarnished). Please review all images in the slideshow for a full overview of condition.