Léon Augustin Lhermitte (1844-1925) was a painter of working people. He was known as a realist and specialized in depicting people working in their homes, in workshops and the fields. As far as I have found, he completed three pieces featuring woodworkers: carpenters (above, featured previously on this blog), a wheelwright and a turner.
Looking at the ‘Carpenter’s Workshop’ one gets the sense that if you could walk into the scene you would find yourself back in 1884. You would smell fresh wood shavings and wood smoke, hear the conversation between the men and perhaps have a quick greeting tossed your way.
The wheelwright’s wife sits close to her husband as he works and it is in her figure we see a sign of age, a reminder that there was no retirement. He will work until he no longer able.
The turner, like the wheelwright, has been at his craft for many years. He works in a confined space with his tools just behind him. In concert with the other craftsman he has his chopping block and ax at the ready.
Today I caught up on a few saved entries on the ‘Spitalfields Life’ blog by the Gentle Author. The blog documents daily life in the East End of London. A few days ago there was an anouncement of the death of the turner, Maurice Franklin, age 98. Mr. Franklin was interviewed for the blog in August 2011 when he was still doing part-time work. You can read his story here.
Mr. Franklin was apprenticed at age 13. When he was interviewed in 2011 he was quoted as saying, “I wake up every day and I stretch out my arms and if I don’t feel any wood on either side, then I know I can get up.” Wise words from a nonagenarian.