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The Russian Emigrants by Lucien Levy-Dhurmer 

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The Russian Emigrants by Lucien Levy-Dhurmer 

- Item No.

Russian Jews emigrate to the United States in this incredible Symbolist work by Lévy-Dhurmer

Key Features

  • A highly emotional oil painting of Russian Jewish emigrants by French artist Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer
  • The family is escaping the horrors of the Russian pogroms and moving to America
  • Feeling of both hope and hardship are expressed through the keen use of perspective and color
  • Lévy-Dhurmer's unparalleled blend of academic and impressionistic elements gained him great success
  • Circa 1900; Signed L Levy Dhurmer (lower left); Oil on canvas
  • Canvas: 36 3/8 high x 29 wide; Frame: 41 5/8 high x 34 1/2 wide

Item Details

  • Width:
    C:29" F:34 1/2" Inches
  • Height:
    C:36 3/8" F:41 5/8" Inches
  • Period:
    Modernism
  • Origin:
    France
  • Subject:
    Miscellaneous
  • Artist:
    Lévy-Dhurmer, Lucien
Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer
1865-1953 French

Les Émigrés Russes (The Russian Emigrants)

Signed "L Levy Dhurmer" (lower left)
Oil on canvas

A family of Russian Jewish emigrants contemplate their future in this emotive oil painting by French Symbolist and Art Nouveau artist Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer. As a Symbolist, the artist infused his works with poignant imagery without the use of traditional allegories. This indirect expression of emotion often provided the vehicle for sensitive social commentary, as seen in Les Émigrés Russes.  Being of Jewish heritage, Lévy-Dhurmer translates his sympathy with the plight of Russian Jews at the turn of the 20th century, through a brilliant use of color and perspective. 

The family is headed for America in the glow of the setting sun. As the golden rays warm their faces with the promise of hope for a better life, the light also shines a figurative light upon the harsh realities they are leaving behind physically, but carrying with them emotionally. The mother's cowled face, the father's stern and protective stance, and the young daughter's vacant gaze speak of the unspeakable events occurring in their homeland. This oil painting is one of at least three variants of this composition painted by Lévy-Dhurmer. It is believed that the family is aboard the transatlantic liner SS Rotterdam, the name of which is partly legible on the life buoy in one of the other versions of this scene.

Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer studied drawing and sculpture in Paris as a child and began his artistic career as a decorative painter at a porcelain manufactory in Golfe-Juan, France, from 1887-1895. He had composed several works during this time, even exhibiting and earning a positive reputation with his exhibits at the Salon des Artistes Français, yet he never truly committed himself to his own art. A trip to Italy in 1895 would change the course of his life and interests, as he was greatly influenced by the legendary Classical and Renaissance art he encountered on his journey. That same year, Lévy-Dhurmer officially began his painting career. 

His unique blend of academic detail with Impressionist color and technique garnered the artist considerable attention. The following year, Lévy-Dhurmer held a very successful solo exhibition at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris, earning him the respect and admiration of members of both artistic and literary circles. In fact, author Léon Thevenin devoted his 1898 book La Renaissance Paienne to Lévy-Dhurmer.

Circa 1900

Canvas: 36 3/8" high x 29" wide
Frame: 41 5/8" high x 34 1/2" wide

This oil painting is one of at least three variants of this composition by Lévy-Dhurmer, one of which is also an oil, the other a pastel.

Provenance:
Whitford and Hughes Gallery, London;
Private collection (acquired from above)

Select Artist's Exhibitions:
Salon des Artistes Français, from 1882
Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 1896
Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, from 1906
Autour de Lévy-Dhurmer, Galeries du Grand Palais, Paris, 1973

Select Artist's Museums:
Louvre, Paris, France
Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Quimper, France
Musée Basque, Bayonne, France
Musée de l'Armée, Paris, France
Musée du Petit Palais, Paris, France
Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan

Artist's Awards and Honors:
Salon des Artistes Français, 1896
Exposition Universelle, Bronze medal, 1900
Legion of Honor, Chevalier, 1902

Reference:
Bénézit, Dictionary of Artists, 2006, Éditions Gründ (ed.)

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