A Cascade in the Mountains
  • Henri-Joseph Harpignies
  • Valenciennes 1819 - 1916 Saint-Privé
  • A Cascade in the Mountains
  • Watercolour over traces of pen and black ink, framing lines with pen and ink, on paper
  • signed with pen on the lower right: h ’harpignies
  • 317 × 239 mm

Only at the age of 27 did Henri-Joseph Harpignies acknowledge his own artistic talent and allow himself to yield to his urge to paint. He began an apprenticeship in Paris with Jean Achard (1807-1884), which he was able to continue at the Académie de France in Rome after 1850. With each of his trips to France and Italy, the special fascination that only landscapes were able to exercise on Harpignies grew, until he finally dedicated himself exclusively to this theme. In the process, he discovered motives both in the Roman Campania and on the craggy Neapolitan coasts as well as in the many rural idylls in France. In 1852, Harpignies opened his own atelier in Paris, but remained true to plein air painting by regularly taking outdoor excursions. Today, this exceptional painter is classed with the second generation of the French landscape watercolourists. In addition to Corot, he found his greatest role models among his friends at the Barbizon School.

As this illustration of a riotous spray between the dark cliffs attests, Harpignies enjoyed working with, and was masterfully unconventional in his use of, watercolours on paper. One almost believes that one can hear the rush of the waterfall and feel the humidity in the air. Brilliant, vibrant landscape excerpts in this technique became his trademark.