Halcyon Le Brume
One of the Depressionist landscape masters of the 19th century, Le Brume's work challenges the viewer as much as it must have challenged the artist. This huge canvas (5' x 12') (1.5 m x 3.6 m) is believed to represent the winter Breton coastline, home of some of the world's great fogs. Le Brume labored from sunrise to sunset for most of February, 1859, to capture the luminous opacity of his subject, oftentimes despairing of evoking the proper nuances of light and shade. He was frequently forced to send to Paris for additional barrels of "Hunter's Gray," his favorite pigment which, as he relates in his autobiography, "perfectly matched my mood as I stood enveloped in the impenetrable soggy mist, wishing I had gone in for nudes or still life."
Working as always with a very subtle palette and his trademark technique of endless washes of barely observable traces of pigment, Le Brume achieved a seamless color field without evident brushmarks, as the detail shows. His style has been compared with the masters of the early Flemish Renaissance.Le Brume continued recording what he called his "fogscapes" until late in life when, still working on the same massive scale, he arrived at the pinnacle of his success with the now famous "Winter" series, producing "Snowblind", "Whiteout" and "Blizzard, High Noon," the latter of which cost him his life from pneumonia and remains incomplete.