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Léonard Misonne

Painterly Photographs

May–July 2016

01. Léonard Misonne, Les bucherons, c. 1934. Three lumberjacks amongst tall trees. Sepia-toned print.
02. Léonard Misonne, Untitled, c. 1932. Pedestrians walk a tree-lined, wet sidewalk. Sepia-toned print.
03. Léonard Misonne, Rue royale, 1936. Two horse-drawn carriages carrying figures with umbrellas on a wet street. Sepia-toned print.
04. Léonard Misonne, Untitled, c. 1930. Figures with umbrellas walk a wet, cobbled market street. Sepia-toned print.
05. Léonard Misonne, Après la pluie, 1932. Crowded, wet sidewalk in front of an ornate, columned building against a cloudy sky. Sepia-toned print.
06. Léonard Misonne, Untitled, c. 1937. Many figures on a cobbled market street with steam rising from various booths. Gray/green-toned print.
07. Léonard Misonne, Choix difficile, 1933. Older woman stands on a cobbled street facing a row of women seated with baskets of produce. Sepia-toned print.
08. Léonard Misonne, Première cigarette, 1927. Various figures, mostly capped men, stand on the sidewalk, cigarette smoke rising above them. Sepia-toned print.
09. Léonard Misonne, [title illegible], c. 1930. Wet, cobbled, residential street and steps in soft light. Sepia-toned print.
10. Léonard Misonne, Untitled, n.d. Frosted, snowy brush and grass in soft light. Gray/green-toned print.
11. Léonard Misonne, Le barrage gelè, c. 1935. Frozen body of water in early morning, hazy light. Sepia-toned print.
12. Léonard Misonne, Hiver à Dinant, 1934. Partially frozen body of water running under a bridge in hazy light. Gray/green-toned print.
13. Léonard Misonne, Lever de soleil, c. 1924. Hazy sunrise alongside a river with brush and trees on either side. Gray/green-toned print.
14. Léonard Misonne, Aurora a'hiver, 1926. Frosted brush and trees alongside a river in hazy sunlight. Sepia-toned print.
15. Léonard Misonne, On alume le jeux, 1924. Three young girls walk across a small body of water on a wooden dock. Waterside homes with smoke rising above them in the background. Sepia-toned print.
16. Léonard Misonne, Mouton au crèpuscule, 1908. Herd of sheep graze in the foreground against a backdrop of low trees and cloudy sky. Sepia-toned print.
17. Léonard Misonne, Cumulus, 1928. Rural landscape with 2/3 of the frame occupied by clouds in dim light. Gray/green-toned print.
18. Léonard Misonne, Coucher de soleil, c. 1901. Rural landscape with small mounds, sparse trees, and a house or barn at sunset.
20. Léonard Misonne, Untitled, c. 1926. 8 small silhouettes in a fragmented line walking on ice/snow in soft light. Gray/green-toned print.
21. Léonard Misonne, La brise, 1926. A group of girls walk along the beach with bare feet in the water. Gray/green-toned print.
22. Léonard Misonne, Untitled, c. 1930. Silhouettes in the midground of a tree-lined street scene with wet pavement. Sepia-toned print.
23. Léonard Misonne, Untitled, c. 1930. Market vendors on a cobbled commercial street with various forms of produce. Sepia-toned print.
24. Léonard Misonne, Untitled, c. 1930. Muddy street, buildings in the midground, and cloudy sky above. Deep sepia-toned print.
25. Léonard Misonne, [title illegible], 1933. Sun-streaked snowy, wooded hills with thin trees. Sepia-toned print.
26. Léonard Misonne, Untitled, n.d. Dark, wooded path. Gray/green-toned print.
27. Léonard Misonne, Brume, 1923. Trees occupy the left of the frame, low brush on the right. Soft light coming from the left. Gray/green-toned print.
28. Léonard Misonne, Bord de l'etang, 1918. Wooded scene with trees and brush. Gray/green-tinted print.
29. Léonard Misonne, Untitled, c. 1930. Wooden scene with sun streaking through from above. Deep sepia-toned print.
30. Léonard Misonne, Untitled, c. 1930. Wooded dirt path receding away from the viewer. Sepia-toned print.
31. Léonard Misonne, Untitled, c. 1930. Cloud-filled sky. Sepia-toned print.
32. Léonard Misonne, Pluie Venise, 1936. Italian square with wet pavement and pigeons, ornate buildings in the background. Sepia-toned print.

Press Release

Belgian photographer Léonard Misonne (1870-1943) trained as an engineer before discovering photography. Raised in Gilly, Belgium, the photographer traveled throughout his homeland and beyond to capture the landscape and people of Europe in the Pictorialist style. Pictorialist photographs, characterized by soft, painterly scenes, were created through alternative printing processes that utilize materials such as oil and gum bichromate. The Pictorialist movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries sought to elevate photography to the level of other fine arts such as painting and sculpture.

Misonne said, "The sky is the key to the landscape." This philosophy is clear in many of Misonne's images, often filled with billowing clouds, early morning fog, or rays of sunlight. The artist excelled at capturing his subjects in dramatic, directional light, illuminating figures from behind, which resulted in a halo effect. Favoring stormy weather conditions, Misonne often found his subjects navigating the streets under umbrellas or braced against the gusts of a winter blizzard.

Misonne's mastery of the various printing processes that he utilized is evidenced by the fine balance between what has been photographically captured and what has been manipulated by the artist's hand in each print. To perfect this balance, Misonne created his own process, called mediobrome, combining bromide and oil printing.

The artist's monochromatic prints in both warm and cool tones convey a strong sense of place and time, as well as a sense of nostalgia for his familiar homeland. Whether the subject is a city street or a pastoral landscape, the perfect light carefully captured by Misonne creates a serene and comforting scene reminiscent of a dreamscape.

During his lifetime, Misonne's photographs were widely exhibited in juried shows in Europe and the United States. Today, his photographs can be found in the collections of such institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the George Eastman Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.