LEBOURG Albert Charles
( 1849- 1928). French painter, born in Montfort-surRisle (Eure); died in Rouen. Lebourg is one of those artists exactly described by the epithet 'minor master', with all that this expression conveys in the way of talent, refinement and reserve. He did not play the revolutionary role of the great Impressionists, but he fully understood their poetic quality and the benefits they brought, especially to landscape painting. In his taste for landscapes seen through the rain and monochrome skies, he follows in the tradition of Boudin and Jongkind. His origins and also his education -- he was a pupil at the Rouen art school -- explain the harmony between his sensibility and the landscapes of the Seine valley. Between 1872 and 1877, during his stay in Algiers, he undertook, in the Monet tradition, to paint series of pictures exploiting the same theme ( Arab Fountain, Moorish Café). Lebourg, however, remained on the margin of true Impressionism and did not draw from these series any of the extreme conclusions reached by Monet at that same time. His Impressionism is never provocative; it is, rather, a discreet harmony of half-tones with the vibration of light-filled atmosphere. In him Paris found one of its most sympathetic interpreters, because he knew how to remain scrupulously exact without being banal. He was the echo, in a minor key, of the great Impressionists; but however discreet his canvases might be, they were never impersonal. Subtle harmonies are to be found there; above all, a great freshness through the use of light colours, more often complementary than contrasting. By his work Lebourg proved the error of academicism in refusing the new benefits of Impressionism and becoming obstinately static. He demonstrated what a nonrevolutionary conception of art rejuvenated by new ideas might have become.
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