(Jean-Baptiste) Léopold Levert (1828-1882 ca.)
Léopold Levert, an almost vanished landscapist who exhibited 4x with the Impressionists:
There is hardly anything known about Jean-Baptiste-Léopold Levert. Many books on Impressionism don’t mention Levert at all. There is no English Wikipedia site about Levert. Still he exhibited 4x at the ‘impressionist’ expositions (in 1874 / 76 / 77 / 80). He was a typical landscapist, rendering in the titles the places he painted (assumedly en-plein-air). Still he just sometimes (6x) mention in his titles the influence of sunlight, weather or season. So he doesn’t seem to be a typical Impressionist, but this is hard to say while there are almost no pictures known of Levert. It is the posthumes auction catalogue of 1883 that gives an inside in the titles of his works.
Levert was befriended with Rouart and Degas. Probably there were some contacts with Cals, Colin, Debras and perhaps with Guillaumin and Pissarro. Levert also did some etching, designed military uniforms and did some fashion illustration. Jean-Baptiste-Léopold Levert never exhibited at the Salon. It is necessary to discern him from Gustave Léopold and Louis Levert. So it is also probably hard to discern what signature is his.
Levert joined the ‘impressionist’ expositions in 1874, 1876, 1877 and 1880:
- At the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874 Levert showed 3 works (catalogue numbers 84-86; R2,p121).
- At the 2nd ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1876 Levert showed 9 works (catalogue numbers 93-101; R2,p162)
- At the 3rd ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1877 Levert showed 6 works (catalogue numbers 80-85; R2,p204/5).
- At the 5th ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1880 Levert showed at least 9 works, including at least 2 etchings (catalogue numbers 105-112; R2,p312).
- In total Levert participated 4x at the ‘impressionist’ exhibitions and showed at least 27 works, including 25 oil paintings. This is more than Cézanne did, who is mentioned in every book about Impressionism. Therefor it is all the more regrettable there is so less known about Levert.
- It was Degas who invited him to join with the ‘impressionist’ expositions (R9;R3;iR4). Or was it Rouart whom he also was close to?
- It is unclear to me why Levert didn’t join the ‘impressionist’ expositions in 1879, 1881 and 1882.
- See link for his -/-art-works. See link for an -/-account.
Levert at the Salon:
Jean-Baptiste-Léopold Levert never exhibited at the Salon. Still there was a Gustave-Léopold Levert who exhibited in 1877 and 1882 both times one work: S1877-1354 Eglise de la Madeleine, à Vézelay (Yonne) and: S1882-1669 Au Colombier, à Fréjus (Var). He was born in Paris, lived at the Rue du Abbesses, 38 in Paris and was a pupil of Pils and L. Levert. It was not indicated of this L. Levert was a relative. Rouart also was a pupil of a L. Levert (iR1) This L. Levert probably was Louis Levert, an 19th century French artist (iR60). Note: this Louis Levert doesn’t appear in the Salon database (iR1). Schurr & Cabanne only mention our Jean-Baptiste Levert and no other artists with this last name. Commons Wikimedia (iR6) render a photograph of an Charles-Alphonse Levert (11 June 1825 – 6 April 1899) taken around 1872, who was a French public servant and politician. In the Louisiana State Museum is a portrait of a Jean-Baptiste Levert, but this is another person.
Where did Levert paint?
The ‘impressionist’ catalogues and the posthumes catalogue of 1883 give information about where Levert painted, see account. He made many works in Fontenay-sous-Bois where he lived at least from 1876-80 and in nearby Neuilly-sur-Marne. He did many works in the region of Brie. He made many works in Fontainebleau (forest) and a little west in Courances, Gâtinais, Malesherbes, Oncy and along the river Essonne. He did several works in the wider region around Paris. He did many works in Portrieux and other places in the Brittany peninsula. He did many works in the former region of Limousin in the middle of France. Also some works along the Creuse, where Guillaumin also was active. He did some works in Pontoise, where Pissarro lived. I hope these data give some light on the almost forgotten Levert. Maybe connections to some other Impressionists.
I conclude anyway that Levert did travel much to find new topics to paint. Does this indicate some prosperity?
Levert as an artist:
Levert is called an amateur (landscape) painter, who merely painted for his own fun traveling across the fields and whose works never left his studio (iR24;iR65;aR2). This seems to contradict the fact that he exhibited 4 times with the Impressionists giving him opportunities to sell his work. This contradicts also with the fact that of the at least 23 different works that Levert exhibited, only 7 come back in the posthumes catalogue of 1883. So probably he had sold 16 works.
Bénézit mentions that Degas turned him to landscape painting (iR69;R9;iR4), which is curious while Degas almost didn’t paint landscapes. Others mention he was a landscape painter in Barbizon style (aR1). Schurr & Cabanne state that his landscapes and seascapes had nothing to do with the impressionist techniques and show a fresh and colourful realism like the followers of the ‘peinture claire’ (R9).
Indeed Levert was mainly a landscapist. Still he did some figure painting (6x) and made some still lives (3x). There are about 11 watercolours / drawings with (almost) the same title as oil paintings. This could indicate that Levert also made studies. (see account)
Levert was not an etcher:
Several sources mention Levert also was an etcher (R9;R3;iR4). And indeed in 1880 he exhibited at least two etchings (no.112). But in the posthumes catalogue of 1883 there are no etchings mentioned (aR2), so probably this was not an technique he applied much. Therefor I don’t find it appropriate to call Levert an etcher.
Levert also was an illustrator and designer of clothes:
Levert did in his early career some fashion illustration (aR1). Levert also was first a designer of military uniforms (iR69;iR60;R3;iR4;aR1). Levert was befriended with Rouart, especially after 1870. Rouart also made military uniforms (or at least his father). (R3;iR4)
Was Levert an Impressionist?
Levert was befriended with Rouart and also with Degas (R3;aR1). Degas portrayed him and owned at least one work of Levert (iR4). Levert also had at least 3 works made in and around Melun, where Rouart had a house (aR2; PA1883-9/12/19). In the 1874 catalogue Levert gives the address of Rouart as correspondence address (R2,p121).
In the posthumes auction in 1883 there were also works sold of other artists, that were in the studio of Levert when he died. Including 3 works of Cals; 1 study of Colin, 3 copies made by Debras and 3 of Rouart. (aR2) So probably Léopold Levert also had contacts with Cals, Colin and Debras. Looking at the places where Levert did paint, maybe there were some connections with Guillaumin and Pissarro. But more is not known about his contacts with the Impressionists.
But still Levert had several contacts with the Impressionists. According to Moffett he was also co-founder / member of the Société Anonyme…. And he participated 4x with the ‘impressionist’ expositions. This makes Levert surely part of the impressionist art-movement.
By lack of images of his art-work, especially his oil-paintings, it is hard to say if he did paint in an impressionist style. He very often gave in his titles an indication of place where he did paint. Though mostly more common than precise. This could indicate he painted en-plein-air. In all the known titles he renders just 6x the influence of sunlight, weather and season. Which doesn’t indicate an impressionist painting style.
Some data about Jean-Baptiste (-Léopold) Levert:
- 1828: Jean Baptiste (Léopold) Levert was born in Paris (iR69;iR60;R9;iR4;R2;R3)
Some sources don’t give a date of birth (iR24)
- 1876+77+80: Levert lives in the Rue Dalayrac, 53 in Fontenay-sous-Bois, see map , about 13km east of Paris (R2).
- 1882ca: Levert died (iR24;iR65)
Several sources mentioned he died after 1880 (when he exhibited for the last time with the Impressionists) (iR60;) Some sources don’t give a date of death (R2;R3;iR4). Schurr & Cabanne (R9) give 1912, which must be wrong considering the posthumes sale in 1883.
- 1883/02/26: posthumes sale of Léopold Levert his own works from his studio. Total numbers: 146; 61 oil paintings (no.1-60bis); at least 63 watercoulors and drawings (no.61-119+146); at least 29 works of others (no.120-145), see account. Many of his paintings were studies. (aR2;iR65).
- 1918/11: a work of Levert ‘Un port de mer’ (21×30) was sold at the Degas auction for just 16 francs (iR4). Maybe the same as 1876-95 ‘Port de Portrieux’.
My main sources are Moffett (1986, R2), Walther (2013, R3,p675), Schurr & Cabanne (2008; R9,p476), the Salon database (iR1), french Wikipedia (iR4), RKD (iR24), marques (iR65), Bénézit (iR69), and ULAN (iR60). For other general references (=R) see. My main sources (for the pictures) from the internet are Wikimedia (iR6) and xx. For other references to internet sites (=iR) see. For other additional references (=aR) see below. See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings.
For further reading see:
- Vanished impressionists 8 (an article at eclecticlight.co=iR35)
- www.gallica.bnf.fr (the posthumes auction catalogue)
- lebrech-associés.com (Paris auction house with 6 drawings of Levert with zoom option=iR80; see on iR10)
- www.delcampe.net (one vague painting of Léopold Levert auctioned in 2018, also on iR10)
- www.lofty.com (one work on paper with option to zoom=iR44, also on iR10)