His masterpiece is a prime example of Naturalism, but he was a close friend of Degas and Renoir, and a major patron and collector of Impressionism.
Trained in the same studio as Bastien-Lepage and Gervex, he emerged a bitter critic of academic painting. He painted several masterpieces of Naturalism.
1882 was a remarkably productive year for him, with a succession of major works, including landscapes, and Naturalist paintings which were dominant long after his death.
A detailed look at his paintings of the rural poor which led up to Naturalism, and how he used a compositional formula so successfully.
After a rough patch in the 1890s, he found his earlier form and painted spectacular works showing seabirds around the fragment coast of the Baltic.
Following Dürer’s 1502 painting of a Young Hare, Liljefors painted wild birds and animals in their natural environment. He remains one of the most important wildlife artists.
In 1882, he painted with Vincent van Gogh in The Hague. A Naturalist without realist style, he showed street life as it was, and loved Japonism too.
His paintings of markets, including Paris’s famous Les Halles, are superb, as are his pastels.
Little-known now, and only for his paintings of harvesters and gleaners, in his day he was at the leading edge of the Naturalist revolution, painting scientists.
After the early death of Bastien-Lepage, he led the Naturalist movement in France. After 1892, though, he concentrated on religious themes seen in a new light.