Honoré Louis UMBRICHT
(Obernai, 1860 - Saint-Arnoult en Yvelines, 1943)
Schlitteurs in the Vosges
Oil on canvas
Signed lower right
55 x 65 cm
The young Alsatian UMBRICHT began his painting studies at his uncle's house in Strasbourg. Very patriotic, he refused the subsidies that the German government (then occupying Alsace) offered him to join the School of Fine Arts in Munich, and preferred to settle in Paris.
Pupil of BONNAT, H. LE ROUX and FEYEN-PERRIN, he entered the Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1880 and began the same year at the Salon with a portrait; his success grew rapidly, and he obtained a third class medal in 1884 and again in 1898. He was Sociétaire des Artistes Français from 1894. Participating in numerous exhibitions and exhibitions in France and abroad, he received several awards: first class medals in Chicago and London in 1888, honorable mention at the 1889 World's Fair and bronze medal in 1900, great gold medal in Rouen in 1897, while in Brussels he received the Cross of the order of Leopold.
It is certainly his painting of the Salon of 1889, "A bad path in the Vosges" (exposed under No. 2598), which is the peak of his career, and best illustrates his naturalistic painting regionalist thematic, which he exercises to side of his activity as a portraitist. The work was widely acclaimed by the critics, who emphasized the artist's brilliant workmanship (even though it is also considered laborious and conscientious) and pointed out that the painting "imperiously commands attention". In the same vein of traditional scenes, we can mention "Lumberjack in the forest of Klingenthal" (dated 1883 and kept at the Town Hall Obernai) or "The clog of Ottrot".
Our painting belongs to this same register, treating a popular theme among painting lovers and local artists, that of schlitteurs. These lumberjacks descended, on sometimes very steep slopes, heavy loads of logs on "schlitts", kinds of wooden sledges.
The roughness of the work and nature of the Vosges is reflected here in the vigorous and brushed touch that the author places in the execution of his painting. He knows how to give us here a glimpse of the social realism as it was approached at the end of the century by a good number of artists, both literary (E. ZOLA), or sculptors (J. DALOU), or painters (J ADLER).