Summer on the River

Summer on the River





French School

Summer on the River  

Oil on panel, signed   

6.2 x 27.5 cms

63/8 x 105/8 inches


Ferdinand Heilbuth was the son of a German Rabbi and was born in Hamburg on 27th June 1826. He did his artistic training under the supervision of the renowned Swiss history and genre painter Charles Marc Gabriel Gleyre and these studies took him firstly to Dusseldorf, then to Rome and finally to Paris where he continued to live until his death on 19th November 1889 having taken French citizenship in 1876.

Heilbuth specialised in genre painting and some fine portraiture and was awarded a second- class medal in 1857 and subsequent repeat awards in 1859 and 1861 in recognition of his talent. In 1861 he was accorded France's highest accolade of merit when he received the Légion d'Honneur.

Paintings with titles such as: "On the banks of the Seine" and "Spring" in the London Royal Academy in 1871, were shown by him while staying in the Arts Club in Hanover Square. He exhibited works in the Paris Salon from 1863 with titles which include: "Le Repos dans la campagne", "La Promenade sur le lac", "La Chasse aux Papillons", "Jeune Femme a la corbeille de roses" and "Sur la Plage". He also exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in London.

His subject matter is often redolent of the important French genre painter Jacques Joseph Tissot and indeed the two artists were friends. Heilbuth and his wife earned a reputation as excellent hosts at Sunday dinner parties during their stays in London and they were also guests at dinner parties given by James Mc Neill Whistler. The Centre for Whistler Studies, which is part of the University of Glasgow, has a menu dated 3rd May 1876 for a dinner party given by Whistler where the guests included Heilbuth, Tissot, the painter Albert Joseph Moore and the architectural designer Thomas Jeckyll. They also hold a guest list which included Heilbuth either for the private viewing of Whistler's exhibition in the Pall Mall Galleries in 1874 or for a subsciption list for his Venice etchings show in 1876.

Van Gogh was an admirer of Heilbuth's work and wrote of him in his letters to van Reppard that among artists he was "…plus ou moins apparantés à Goya"

Museums where his work can be seen include: Bayeux "La Femme au Chien", Bordeaux "Jeune Femme au noeud rose", Wallace Collection, London, "Excavations in Rome", Reims "Idylle dans les bois" Sydney "Méditation" and others in Dijon, Hamburg, Louvre Paris, Saint-Lo and Saintes.


1826 - 1889


Oil on panel