Belgian painters at Galerie Saint-Martin Part -1

During the 18th century, the influence of Belgian art diminished. Political events and the attraction of the Parisian capital prevented artists from renewing the genre. The Parisian schools now influenced the new Belgian personalities.

It wasn't until 1815 that the arts began to serve politics. William II of the Netherlands, through his patronage, brought history painting and neo-classicism (a refined art inspired by antiquity) back into fashion.
Jacques Louis David, the greatest French exponent of this movement, trained a whole generation of painters until his voluntary exile. This event gave a new lease of life to Belgian painting and a new lease of life to the genre of local painting.


From 1830 onwards, genre scenes (often scenes of daily life) became a popular genre for artists.
Belgian painters saw it as an opportunity to meet the people.
The romantic aspect that these scenes might have had in the 17th century turned to a more realistic observation.

The work of Ludovic Geluwe, "Les blanchisseuses", exhibited at the gallery, demonstrates the history of this influential style in oil on canvas.


oil on canvas, "The Laundresses", Ludovic Van Geluwe, 1850
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This work was first exhibited at the 1850 Paris Salon under number 2292. The artist strikingly depicts a scene from the daily life of common women and small trades. The viewer's attention is focused on the two women in the center of the scene, illuminated by a white light.

Van Geluwe's play of contrasting clothes, shadows and light lends the scene a noble air. The painting is also larger than the usual canvases for this genre.


In the 60s, tastes evolved. The desire for modernity that affected France also affected Belgian painting. Numerous painting academies were created, numerous Salons were held, and new trends emerged.

Landscape painting, for example, is one of these fashionable genres, and evolves in a variety of styles: realist, plein-air, impressionist and so on.
Harbors, the sea, people and industrialization are the main themes.

Artist Jean Baptiste Degreeff is fully in line with this modernity.


oil on wood, "Port animé", Jean-Baptiste Degreef, 1852-1894
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Degreef was one of the first in Belgium to practice plein-air painting.

Our painting, in shades of gray and brown, plunges us directly into the atmosphere of 19th-century ports.
The work is in motion. The viewer is swept up in the thudding sound of industrialization on the march, in the midst of moving carts, smoke and boats.

Kurt Peizer, who trained at the Antwerp Academy, is also famous for his romantic vision of the landscape, with its mix of human emotions.
Throughout his life, the artist painted the world of his childhood and adolescence.
Among other works, he produced a set of three oil paintings entitled "La Mer dans un cadre unique et original" ("The Sea in a unique and original setting").


3 oil paintings, "The Sea", Kurt Peizer, 1887-1962
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Peizer prefers plein-air painting. He advocates a form of painting that is free of academic codes, a form of painting that speaks emotionally: "To recreate, you have to become yourself again, you have to be moved, overwhelmed", he writes.
The artist depicts the sea with a touch akin to that of the German Expressionists: a vivid palette, strong tones and nimble, sharp brushstrokes.

In reaction to academicism, the Société libre des beaux-arts was founded in 1868. Many Belgian artists wanted to create a new style of painting that was more realistic, freer, impressionist and symbolist.


oil on board, Lakescape, Alfred Théodore Bastien, 1873-1955







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It would influence a whole future generation of painters, including Alfred Bastien. Painters continued to experiment with the division of tones, colors and contrasts, as the great French masters such as Delacroix and Courbet had done before.

  Originally trained in the pure academic tradition, Bastien left his mark on post-impressionist artistic society with his landscapes and still lifes.
The artist learned to master light during his travels in Morocco and Algeria. His practice of plein air and his taste for "sketching" were also acquired in the trenches.
It wasn't until he returned from the war that he fully devoted himself to painting, particularly landscapes.
For Bastien, it's not the drawing that makes the work, but the light that constructs it. The only thing that matters is the emotion given to the viewer, for a vivid, colorful touch with blurred contours.

Maritime representation remained important well into the 20th century, as demonstrated by Alphonse Van Beurden II 's oil on canvas , " Voiliers aux ports" (Sailing ships in port), on display at the gallery.


Oil on canvas, Marine, "Sailboats in port", Alphonse Van Beurden II, 20th century
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First a student, then a teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Van Beurden II was a figure painter, landscape painter and decorator.

Oswald Poreau also illustrates this break with academic codes through his depictions of Dutch landscapes. In one of his works at the gallery, entitled "Port industriel", the artist is an impressionist of free realism, painting landscapes as well as the manufacturing world around him.


oil on canvas, "Port industriel", Oswald Poreau, 1954
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Here, the artist depicts the factories of Schaerbeek, his native commune near Brussels.