Bouquet de Dahlias, 1890

by Gustave De Jonghe


DIMENSIONS: 18.1 x 15.2 inches (46 x 38.5 cm)
SIGNED: Signed and dated (lower right) and dedicated ‘to my friend Marie Defaux’
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas


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    By the vase a branch rests on the table with a few scattered petals. The colours are set by small juxtaposed touches, in the manner of the Impressionists, which reinforces the feeling of vitality emanating from the painting. Like the Flemish and Dutch productions of the Century d’Or, this still life contains a hidden message. The flower on the ground and the scattered petals are indeed a metaphor of human life which leaves the field open to a double interpretation.

    Private collection, France

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    Gustave Leonhard de Johnge was a Flemish genre painter known for his glamorous society portraits and genre scenes. He was the son of Jan Baptist and a pupil in Brussels of Navez.

    He received his first art lessons from his father. He continued his studies in Brussels at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts where leading Belgian painter François-Joseph Navez was one of his teachers. The history painter Louis Gallait was his close friend and mentor. When de Jonghe’s father died when he was only 15 years old, his native city granted him a scholarship.

    After training in Brussels, he started out as a painter of historical and religious subjects in a Realist style. After moving to Paris where he spent most of his active career, he became successful with his scenes of glamorous women in richly decorated interiors.

    From the mid 19th Century onwards, de Jonghe participated in the exhibitions of the Brussels Salon. He emigrated to Paris and began to exhibit at the Paris Salons in the 1850s. He became a popular painter of elegant women and group portraits of the bourgeoisie. He usually preferred interior settings, in which he represented several fashionable details of the period.

    In the latter half of the century, the artist repeatedly shuttled between Paris and Brussels. The onset of blindness following a cerebral haemorrhage ended his artistic career and he returned to Brussels. Leading Belgian and French artists in Paris organized a charity art sale to support the ailing artist and his family. De Jonghe died in 1893 in Antwerp where he had resided since 1884.

    De Jonghe was twice awarded a medal for his work: he received in 1862 a first-class medal in Amsterdam and in 1863 a third-class medal at the Paris Salon. In 1864, Belgian King Leopold I honoured him with the Order of Leopold.

    His works are found in international museums such as the Hermitage and the Musée d’Orsay.

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