Henri Le Sidaner spent his early years with his family in the West Indies before they returned to their native France in 1872. He first studied art with the historical painter Alexandre Desmit in 1877 and then, with artist Alexandre Cabanel, from 1882 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. While at the Ecole, Le Sidaner often retreated to Etaples on the northern coast of France, where he felt released from the Ecole's strict routine of copying art in the Louvre Museum. In 1887 Le Sidaner's figurative paintings set in Etaples were exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Francais. They were well received, and by 1891 the Salon had awarded him a bronze medal.
After the turn of the last century, Henri Le Sidaner turned from figurative painting to landscapes, gardens and interiors. He became well known for his moody scenes of urban and rural houses bathed in twilight and moonlight, undisturbed by human figures. He also painted scenes from his own home and gardens. He frequently worked from memory, and in his acute observations and selection from nature his working methods had much in common with those of Whistler. Having started his career as a naturalistic figure painter, during the 1890's Le Sidaner's work became progressively more symbolist.
After 1900 Le Sidaner moved to Beauvais, 45 miles north of Paris, and within a couple of years he settled nearby at the picturesque hill-top village of Gerberoy. Although he had such a personal style of painting, many followers were attracted to Gerberoy and the village soon became re-populated as a colony of artists with Le Sidaner reluctantly at its head.
Le Sidaner's art was quite popular, and by 1897 he exhibited regularly in one-man shows in Paris, London, Brussels and the United States. In 1930 he was knighted with the Legion d'Honneur and elected a member of the Academie des Beaux-Arts. He died in Versailles in 1939.