A self-trained artist, Lépine made his debut at the Paris Salon in 1859, and then apprenticed to the master J.B.C. Corot, identifying himself as his student in the 1866 Salon catalogue. Lépine was a quiet and modest man, who generally isolated himself from artistic circles, though he did enjoy a few friendships with painters such as Cals, Ribot, and Fantin-Latour, even making the acquaintance of Edouard Manet who painted a portrait of Lépine’s wife in 1878.
Lépine exhibited 37 works at the Paris Salon during his lifetime, usually a single work or sometimes a pair of paintings. Hardly noticed by the critics, and isolated from his contemporaries, it took him 25 years to receive recognition, and then only an honorable mention. However his place in art history can be better understood by viewing his work as part of the transitional movement of traditional pleine aire landscape painting to that of Impressionism and modern art. In fact, in 1874, the year before our work was done, Lépine participated in the first Impressionist exhibition that took place at the photographer Nadar’s gallery, where he exhibited together with avant garde-artists such as Cézanne, Pissarro, Degas, Monet, and Renoir. Probably depicting a scene nearby Paris in the Normandy countryside, our painting shows the strong influence of Corot while referencing the early paintings of Monet in its fresh color and broad brushwork.