Henri Adolphe Laissement

Let Him Sit
French, (1854-1921)
Oil on canvas, signed

The inscription ‘Au Doctor Desnos’ (to Doctor Desnos) probably refers to the gentleman stood between the two cardinals. The bearing, features and attitude of this distinguished figure all point towards being the eminent physician Ernest Desnos (1853-1925). Ernest Desnos was awarded croix d'officier de la légion d'honneur and the figure bears a similar looking accessory for the prestigious medal.

Henri Laissement was a portrait and genre painter born in Paris in 1854. In 1872, at the age of 18 he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts studying under Alexandre Cabanel (1823-89) who greatly influenced his drawing technique. He made his debut at the Paris Salon in 1879 and continued to exhibit there regularly until 1912. He received a number of accolades over the years including honourable mention awards in 1882 and 1889, a third class medal in 1898, a bronze medal in 1900, and a second class medal in 1905.

In 1884 he became a member of the Salon des Artistes Francais. After initially focusing on portraits, around the late 1880’s or early 1890s Laissement started to produce genre scenes featuring Cardinals of the Catholic Church. His humorous and gently satirical paintings proved a popular subject with his French audience and he became one of the leading painters of these types of works. In addition to paintings, he also produced a number of etchings for a collection of poems.

His works became popular in the United States, selling many through the American Art Association Galleries in New York. Laissement died in Paris on 12 April 1921. A number of his works can be found in private and public art collections including the Musée d’art Roger-Quilliot, Clermont-Ferrand, France, the Louvre Museum, Paris and Syracuse University Art Collection, USA.