Famed as a painter of joy and light, Lebasque is admired for the intimacy of his subject matter and his unique delight in color and form.
Hailed by critics and artists alike as the painter of the good life, Lebasque was acclaimed for his individuality, his delicate sense of light and his personal charm. Such were the qualities that prompted Beaunier to write: Lebasque merits the renown of a lovely original artist, who knows his calling, uses it well, and never abuses it. (Gazette des Beaux Arts, May, 1908, p. 366)
Born in Champigne, Lebasque went to Paris in 1885 and studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Then he entered the atelier of the portraitist Leon Bonnat and began to exhibit at the annual art society exhibitions and the Paris Salons. He later assisted Ferdinand Humbert with the decorative murals of the Pantheon.
Lebasque’s vision was colored by his contact with younger painters, especially Vuillard and Bonnard, founders of the ‘Nabis’ group and ‘Intimists’ who first favored the calm and quietude of domestic subject matter. From his first acquaintance with Seurat and Signac, he learned the significance of a color theory which stressed the use of complementary colours in shading.
Lebasque was a founding member of the Salon d’Automne in 1903 with his friend Matisse. Two years later a group of artists exhibited there including Rouault, Derain, Vuillard, Manguin and Matisse. Dubbed, ‘Les Fauves’ for their stylistic savagery It was noted by the critic Vauxcelles, that Lebasque’s talent arrived in the midst of the roaring of the unchained beasts. Like Les Fauves. He adopted a similar flatness of shape and colour, but blended with a sophisticated and subtle fluidity.
In 1924 he moved to Le Cannet on the French riviera, where he shared a model with his friend and neighbor Bonnard. He died at le Cannet, Alpes-Maritimes in 1937 and in the same year a group of his works were shown at the Exhibition of the Maîtres d’Art Indépendants at the Petit-Palais. Twenty years after his death, the Musée des Ponchettes in Nice held the first retrospective the works of Henri Lebasque. Another exhibition featured his work in St Paul-de-Vence in 1981.