Léon-Augustin L'Hermitte purportedly began working in pastels in 1885, the year before his first exhibition at the Société des Pastellistes Français. There at the Georges Petit Gallery in Paris he exhibited twelve pastels which portrayed daily peasant life around his birthplace of Mont-Saint- Père. This exhibition would establish L'Hermitte as one of the foremost proponents of works executed in pastel. In fact he helped to found the pastellistes and would go on to mentor younger artists in this medium. Van Gogh once referred to Lhermitte as "Millet the Second" and wrote of him in the following passage:
"…if every month "Le Monde Illustré" published one of his compositions…it would be a great pleasure for me to be able to follow it. It is certain that for years I have not seen anything as beautiful as this scene by Lhermitte…I am too preoccupied by Lhermitte this evening to be able to talk of other things."
L'Hermitte's use of pastels helped to usher in and reinforce the growing acceptance of the use of pastels in art in France.
L'Hermitte is notable for his draughtmanship, and this skill is in evidence in Chemin face à Chartèves which showcases the sensitivity with which he depicted the lives of ordinary agricultural workers in the countryside. In many ways L'Hermitte assumed the mantle of Vincent Van Gogh with his powerful depictions of common peasants at work in the fields and at leisure.
Sotheby's New York, October 23, 2007, No. 117.
M. Le Pelley Fonteny, Catalogue raisonné de Léon-Augustin Lhermitte, Editions Cercle d'Art, Paris, 1991, No. 607 p. 265 (described as unsigned).