Primarily a landscape artist, Lebourg sought to harmonise light variations in his representation of riverbanks, snowscapes, and sunsets. Concentrating in his work on capturing the subtle nuances of light and the effects of atmosphere, Lebourg began to paint studies, depicting a single site in a variety of different lights, as Monet and Pissarro also did later.
From 1880’s until the mid-1890s, Lebourg moved around the Île de France, Normandy and the Channel ports. He painted in Auvergne, Normandy and Île-de-France, but his main occupation were animated scenes of the Seine. He wrote at the time: ‘I will paint often at the banks of the Seine: Nanterre, Rueil, Chatou, Bougival, Port-Marly. These are a source of themes and very beautiful landscapes‘. His river landscapes, painted in a luminous Impressionist style, are widely regarded as amongst his greatest artistic achievements.
French Impressionist painter of the Rouen School, Albert Lebourg was born in 1848, in Monfort-sur-Risle, Haute-Normandie, and initially trained as an architect. When introduced to a local landscape painter Victor Delamarre, however, Lebourg shifted his focus. The young, aspiring artist was particularly inspired by the Impressionist technique of en plein air painting, which placed the artist firmly inside their landscape.
Lebourg continued to work as an architect in parallel with his development as a painter. At the Academie de peinture et de dessins in Rouen, France, Lebourg attended evening classes run by Gustave Morin, a noted genre and history painter. 1872 marked a turning point in Lebourg’s development as a painter. He exhibited a canvas in Rouen that so impressed a local collector that he offered Lebourg a position as a teacher in Algeria. Lebourg spent five years in the country, absorbing its culture and observing the shifting intensities of North African light. It was a transformational experience.
The artist returned to Paris in 1877. He studied in the École des Beaux-Arts under the highly regarded Academic painter Jean-Paul Laurens. His close friend Auguste Renoir exerted upon him a more important influence. In 1878, he exhibited alongside Renoir, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, and Camille Pissarro, and was featured as part of the Impressionists’ group exhibitions the following two years.
Lebourg was made Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur in 1903 in recognition of his contribution to painting. Between the years 1883 and 1914, his canvases were exhibited at several institutions including: the Salon des Artistes Français; the acclaimed Les XX exhibition, Brussels, alongside Pissarro, Morisot and Georges Seurat; and the Salon der Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.
Lebourg’s canvases are held in major public collections worldwide, including the Hermitage Museum, St.Petersburg, the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, the Fondation Bemberg Museum, Toulouse, the Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, the Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo.