Henri Joseph Harpignies was an esteemed French landscape painter, born at Valenciennes in 1819. Although it was his parents who urged a career in business, his determination to become an artist was so strong that he would eventually be allowed at the age of twenty-seven to enter Jean-Alexis Achard's (1807-1884) atelier in Paris. It is there, that the young painter acquired the fundamentals of sound constructive draughtsmanship, which is so marked a feature of his landscape painting.
During the next few years he devoted himself to the painting of children in landscape setting, and fell in with Jean Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875) and the other Barbizon masters, whose principles and methods are to a certain extent reflected in his own personal art. He would foster a strong friendship with his colleague Cotor - the two artists went together to Italy in 1860.
Following his return, he scored his first great success at the Salon, in 1861, with his Lisire de bois sur les bords de l'Allier. After that year he was a regular exhibitor at the old Salon; in 1886 he received his first medal for Le Soir dans la campagne de Rome (Evening in the Roman Countryside), which was acquired for the Luxembourg Gallery.
Many of his best works were painted at Brisson in the Bourbonnais, as well as in the Nivernais and the Auvergne. Among his chief pictures are Soir sur les bords de la Loire (1861), Les Corbeaux (1865), Le Soir (1866), Le Saut-du-Loup (1873), La Loire (1882), and Vue de Saint-Priv (1883). He also did some decorative work for the Paris Opera: the Valle d'Egrie panel, which he showed at the Salon of 1870.