Florent Willems (Belgian, 1823-1905)

The New Mother

Florent Willems (Belgian, 1823-1905)

Willems was born in Liège, but settled in Paris in 1844. He was awarded the highest honors and frequently decorated with medals for his painstakingly detailed images. While exhibiting at the Royal Academy in London and the Salons in Brussels and Paris, his paintings were purchased by Napoleon III, the Empress, and the King of Belgium. Today, his works hang in New York’s Metropolitan Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago. Willems was infatuated with the 17th century Dutch masters and excelled in emulating their meticulous technique, which is evident in the fabric and figures in this tender scene.

Florent Willems (Belgian, 1823-1905)

Francis Sydney Muschamp RBA (British, 1851-1929)

Francis Sydney Muschamp RBA (British, 1851-1929), Enid – Then breaking his Command of Silence given She told him all that Earl Limours had said, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1895, oil on canvas, 47″ x 61 “

Francis Sydney Muschamp was greatly influenced by Lawrence Alma-Tadema and Lord Leighton, and other leading classical artists of the era. He had a special love for ancient mythology, 19th-century romance, and Elizabethan dramas, as evidence by the titles of his paintings:  The Merchant of Venice, The Sonnet, Much Ado about Nothing, Juliet and her Nurse, The Fool and Maria: A Scene for Twelfth Night, The Winning of the Golden Fleece and Ivanhoe.

Francis Sydney Muschamp was born in Hull to the son of the landscape painter, Francis Muschamp (active 1865-1881). The family moved to London in 1865, the year that Muschamp Sr. began to exhibit at the Royal Society of British Artists. The younger Muschamp began to exhibit at the Royal Society of British Artists in 1870 and continued to exhibit his paintings at the major halls until 1903. He exhibited at: The Royal Academy (1884-1903); Suffolk Street; Royal Society of Artists, Birmingham; Dudley Gallery & New Dudley Gallery; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; Manchester City Gallery; Royal Society of British Artists; Royal Hibernian Academy; and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters.

Francis Sydney Muschamp was elected a member of the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) in 1893.  Enid – Then breaking his Command of Silence …, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1895, brings to life a scene from the romantic legend of King Arthur, retold in Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. Enid is a humble maiden who desperately loves her husband, Geraint, one of Arthur’s bravest knights. Geraint doubts his wife’s loyalty and forbids her to speak on his journey to fame and fortune. Here we see Enid reluctantly breaking her husband’s command of silence to warn him of an evil plot by her former suitor.


Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée (French, 1724 – 1805)

Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée (French, 1724 – 1805), The Murder of Servius Tullius, King of Rome, c. 1770, signed, oil on canvas, 19.75″ x 24″

Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée was an accomplished French Neoclassical painter and teacher. He is often referred to as Lagrenée the elder, to distinguish him from his younger brother, Jean-Jacques Lagrenée, also an artist. Born in Paris, he showed promise in drawing and painting from an early age. During his youth, the French Royal Academy offered courses in life drawing and the principles of art. These courses gave academy members a chance to identify and nurture six of the most gifted young students in any given year and offer them free tuition, with a small stipend, for three years. The program was aimed at preparing these gifted students for the Prix de Rome competition. After being selected for and completing this three-year program, under the tutelage of Carle van Loo, Lagrenée won the Grand Prix de Rome on his first attempt in 1749, with the painting Joseph interpreting the dreams of Pharaoh (now lost).

As a student at the French Academy in Rome, Lagrenée was inspired by the work of Guido Reni (1575 – 1642) and Francesco Albani (1578 – 1660). Later in his career, Lagrenée acquired the epithet ‘the French Albani’ (l’Albane Francais).

After returning from Rome in 1753, Lagrenée set to work on a large painting The abduction of Dejaneira by the centaur Nessus (Louvre), which, when finished in 1755, earned him membership at the Royal Academy, by a unanimous vote. By this time, Lagrenée was already considered something of a celebrity.

Lagrenée’s career blossomed in Paris; he completed many important commissions for eminent patrons and submitted regular entries to the Paris Salons. His reputation caught the attention of Elizabeth Petrovna, Empress of Russia; and, in 1760, the Empress appointed Lagrenée her Principle Painter and Director of the Imperial Academy of Arts in St Petersburg.

Lagrenée lived in St. Petersburg for two years and served as Director of the Imperial Academy of Arts. Upon his return to Paris he served as professor and rector of the French Royal Academy. Many scholars believe he is responsible for the French movement away from the ornate and frivolous Rococo style (a style of French art associated with the final heyday of the aristocracy before the revolution) toward the more ordered and austere Neoclassicism.

Lagrenée moved back to Italy, and from 1781 and 1787 he served as Director of the French Academy in Rome.

On his final return to Paris, Lagrenée was appointed to the position of curator, rector and Honorary Director of the Louvre, a position that he held until his death in 1805. In 1804, Napoleon conferred on him the highest decoration, the Légion d’Honneur, and on the 19th of June 1805 he died in the Louvre.

The Murder of Servius Tullius, King of Rome, a portrayal of the murder of the beloved 6th King of Rome (578–535 BC) by his daughter, Tullia, and her husband, Tarquinius Superbus, demonstrates Lagrenée’s Neoclassical style.

Alexandre Louis Leloir (French, 1843-1884)

A Chariot Of Swallows , date unknown Alexandre Louis Leloir (Louis Leloir) (French, 1843‐1884)

Alexandre Louis Leloir (French, 1843-1884), Chariot of Swallows ,oil on canvas, signed, 52.25″ x 39.25″

Alexandre Louis Leloir, also known as Louis Leloir, was decorated with numerous medals and awarded many accolades, including the prestigious Legion of Honor. He participated in the Paris Salon from 1859 – 1868, and won second place in the 1864 Prix de Rome competition, a coveted scholarship for promising artists. Around 1868, Leloir shifted his focus from history painting to romantic images imbued with vibrant colors. Chariot of Swallows depicts grace, sensuality, and delicate imagination, all hallmarks of the Romantic Movement. Fantasy provided an enchanting escape from the political unrest, poverty, and rapid urbanization that plagued nineteenth century Continental Europe. Today, Leloir’s paintings hang in some of the finest museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.


François-Xavier Fabre (French, 1766–1837)

(French or Italian School) Signature lower right corner, “Coriolanus and Veturia”, oil on canvas, 36.25″ x 53″

Fabre was a French Neoclassical painter, printmaker, and collector. He was trained by the painter Jean Coustou (1719–1791) before entering the studio of the great Jacques-Louis David in 1783.  His career as a history painter began brilliantly when, in 1787, he won the Prix de Rome for Nebuchadnezzar Ordering the Execution of Zedekiah’s Children. This early success was consolidated by the four years he spent at the Académie de France in Rome and by the enthusiastic reception of his Death of Abel (1790) at the Salon of 1791. The political upheavals in France forced Fabre to spend most of his life in Italy, where he gained the patronage of several wealthy aristocrats.

While many 19th century European artists were eager to transcend the conventional Neoclassical history painting, Fabre remained a lifelong devotee to David, as evidenced by the classic subject matter and sharp realism.

Musée Fabre – a museum in Montpellier, a city in southern France

The town of Montpellier was given thirty paintings in 1802, which formed the basis of a modest municipal museum. Under the Napoleonic Empire, the museum moved between various temporary sites. In 1825, the town council accepted a large donation of works from Fabre and the museum was installed in the refurbished Hôtel de Massillian. The museum officially opened its doors on December 3, 1828. Fabre’s generosity led others to follow his example, notably Antoine Valedau who donated his collection of Dutch and Flemish masters to the city. On the death of Fabre in 1837, a legacy of more than a hundred pictures and drawings completed the collection.

Beginning in 2003, the museum underwent a major renovation, which was completed in January 2007. It is one of the main sights of Montpellier and close to the city’s main square. The museum’s national importance is recognized by it being classified as a Musée de France by the French Ministry of Culture.


Paolo Veronese, The Family of Darius before Alexander, 1565-67, oil on canvas, 236.2 x 474.9 cm (The National Gallery, London)
More free lessons at: http://www.khanacademy.org/video?v=Yn…

Georges Washington (French 1827-1910)

Georges Washington (French 1827-1910), The Skirmish, oil on canvas, signed G. Washington lower right, 23.5″ x 19.75″

Passions threatened on distant battlefields are perfectly suited to the unleashed fury of Romanticism. George Washington incorporates bold brush strokes and expressive colors to heighten the motion and emotion of two enemies in the midst of combat. Fascinated by the new frontiers, the artist spent long periods in North Africa painting colorful scenes of mounted Arab warriors. When he wasn’t traveling, Washington participated in the French Salon and was awarded for his vibrant canvases depicting action and adventure in distant lands.


George Washington is considered one of France’s most successful nineteenth century Orientalist painters, renowned for his vibrant and animated scenes of Arab cavaliers and huntsmen set in Algeria, Morocco and Turkey. His exhibited and commissioned works are now part of many important public and private collections, enthusiastically praised by connoisseurs of the European Orientalist School for their veracity, vitality and virtuosity.

Washington was born out of wedlock in 1827, and as an adult adopted the pseudonym Georges Washington, after America’s first President. His mother, Marie Besse, did not officially acknowledge her son until 1868 – after the forty-one year old had received critical acclaim and gained popular appeal.

Like most aspiring young artists, Washington moved to Paris, where he trained at the Ecole des Beaux Arts under François-Edouard Picot (1786-1868). Best known for his historical battle scenes, Picot provided Washington with a strong grounding in draftsmanship and sound composition, to which the young artist added his own personal style and emotional intensity. Washington’s appreciation for vibrant colors and intense drama was enhanced by his study of the Romantic painters, especially Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), who also used color and expressive brushstrokes to heighten the visual effect and elicit strong emotion.

Washington’s love of the Middle East and its customs was encouraged by his father-in-law, the military and Orientalist painter Henri-Félix-Emmanuel Philippoteaux (1815-1884), whose daughter, Anne-Léonie Philippoteaux, Washington married in Paris on August 6, 1859. Not long after finishing his training at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Washington embarked on the first of many trips to Algeria. Fascinated by the people and their colorful costumes and exotic customs, Washington made his Paris debut at the French Salon in 1857 with an image of Saharan nomads, titled Plaine du Hoiina (Sahara Algérien).

Washington was a prolific painter and a popular exhibitor at the Salon for over forty years. One of his first works to gain critical acclaim was Nomades dans le Sahara en Hiver (exhibited 1861; subsequently acquired by the Musée de Lille). Further success came when in 1893 he showed Le Combat and Cavaliers Arabes dans le Désert des Sables, for which he was awarded a third class medal. In addition to Paris, Washington showed his work in Moscow in 1881, and was posthumously honored when four of his paintings were included in the Exposition Coloniale de Marseille in 1906.

In 1879, following two commissions from a Belgian company, the artist travelled to Morocco and subsequently Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey, Beyond ferocious battle scenes and cavalry skirmishes, Washington added to his repertoire more serene images — nomads resting beside an oasis and horses with their riders enjoying a respite by the Mediterranean Sea. On rare occasions Washington depicted scenes of his homeland, including two equestrian compositions, Derby de Chantillyn en 1863 (shown at the Salon in 1864) and Steeple-chase à Vincennes (shown at the Salon in 1865). In 1886, he traveled to the United Sates for the unveiling in Philadelphia of a cyclorama (a monumental 360° panoramic view) of the Battle of Gettysburg by his brother-in-law Paul-Dominique Philippoteaux (1846-1923). Philippoteaux painted two earlier versions of the famous battle, assisted by five other artists, including Philippoteaux’s father and Georges Washington.

On the death of the artist’s father-in-law, Henri-Félix-Emmanuel Philippoteaux, in 1884, Georges Washington and his wife Anne-Léonie were left a modest apartment in Montmartre, which was later occupied by the Impressionist painter Auguste Renoir. In 1884 Washington sold thirty of his paintings at the Drouot Paris auction house, and using the proceeds as well as the money left to him by his father-in-law, he and his wife embarked on a farming enterprise in Brittany – which proved to be a financial disaster. Before returning to Montmartre, Washington revisited America in 1888 to undertake a commission for another panorama.

Following the death of his wife, Washington retired from painting and went to live with his daughter and son-in-law at Douarnenez on the Brittany Coast; he died shortly after on November 19, 1901.

The Skirmish not only exemplifies Washington’s expertise as an equestrian painter, but also his knowledge and understanding of Arab customs and costumes, which he witnessed firsthand during one of his many travels to the Middle East.


Source: http://www.jeromefinearts.com/portfolio/georges-washington-1827-1901/

Attributed to Francesco Hayez (Italian, 1791-1881)

Francesco Hayez (Italian, 1791-1881), Manrico Imprisoned in the Bell Tower, c.1860, oil on canvas, 39″ x 21″

Hayez studied in Venice, Naples, and Rome, and in 1823 moved to Milan, where he was named Director of the Academy of Brera. Although trained as a Neoclassical painter, by the mid-19th century he was thought to be one of the leading Romantic artists in Italy. He is best known for his 1859 painting Il Bacio [The Kiss], a symbol of Italian Romanticism. Manrico Imprisoned in the Bell Tower is a scene from Il Trovatore, an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi, which premiered on January 19, 1853 in Rome, Italy

Pictured is Manrico in his prison cell, singing to his dying mother moments before his own execution by Count Di Luna.

Il Trovatore takes place in a 15th century Spanish town.


Count di Luna, a nobleman in the service of the Prince of Aragon

Manrico, a troubadour and officer in the army – condemned to death due to his political affiliations

Azucena, a gypsy, supposedly Manrico’s mother – held captive by di Luna

Leonora, noble lady, in love with Manrico and courted by Di Luna

Ruiz, Manrico’s henchman


When Count diLuna’s two sons were small children an elderly
witch cast a spell on one of them. For this crime, she was burned at the stake. In revenge, her daughter, the witch Azucena, stole the Count’s other son and cast him into a fire. For years now, everyone has pursued this woman, anxious to bring her to justice. Meanwhile, the ghost of her mother continues to haunt the region in the form of an owl. Outside, Count Di Luna waits to court the lovely Leonora. Leonora confides to her friend, Inez, her love for the troubadour Manrico.

Di Luna loves Leonora and is jealous of his successful rival, Manrico.

Azucena sings about the horrifying experience of seeing her mother wrongly burned alive for the supposed crime of bewitching Count di Luna’s child. She explains to her son Manrico (the mysterious troubadour) how she had stolen a child of the Count’s, intending to cast him into the flames in revenge. Mistakenly, however, she threw her own child to the fire instead. At this moment, the audience may be aware that Manrico is, in fact, the brother of his rival, Count di Luna. Manrico, however, remains puzzled and questions Azucena about his true identity.

Manrico and Leornora are happily in love and are about to give their hands to one another in marriage. As they say their vows, Manrico’s friend, Ruiz, rushes in to tell them that Azucena was captured and sentenced to burn at the stake. Manrico stops everything and rushes to her aid.

When Manrico arrived outside of his mother’s prison, he too was captured. Di Luna orders his execution. Manrico sings his sad farewell to life. Ruiz brings Leonora to the prison where she vows to save him. Not long after, di Luna arrives at the prison. Leonora attempts to free Manrico by begging di Luna for mercy and offers herself in place of her lover. She promises to marry the count, but secretly swallows poison from her ring in order to die before di Luna can possess her.

Manrico and Azucena are awaiting their execution. Manrico attempts to soothe Azucena, whose mind wanders to happier days in the mountains. Within their cell, Manrico comforts his aging mother, who has now begun to fall asleep. Leonora arrives and urges Manrico to escape. However, after learning she has promised herself to the count, he feels betrayed and refuses to leave his cell. Within moments, the effects of the poison begin to show and Leonora falls into Manrico’s arms. She tells Manrico that she’d rather die in his arms than to be married to another man. Count di Luna walks into the cell moments after Leonora dies and sees her lifeless body in Manrico’s arms. He orders his men to execute Manrico.

Azucena wakes and sees the execution of Manrico and she shouts that her mother has been avenged, for di Luna has killed his own brother!



Charles Soubre (Liege, Belgian, 1821‐1895)

Charles Soubre (Liege, Belgian, 18211895), Lady Macbeth, oil on canvas, signed and dated 1877, 45” x 33.5”

“Out, damned spot! Out, I say!” William Shakespeare’s dramatic text inspired 19th century artists more than any other playwright, novelist, or poet. A perfect example is Lady Macbeth by Charles Soubre, a Belgian painter and professor.

From 1854 to 1889, after his training at the Academy of Fine Arts in Liege, Soubre became a respected drawing instructor. Although he is best known for his great historical images, Soubre also painted portraits, landscapes, and scenes from literature.

His 1878 historical painting, The Departure of Volunteers to Liege Brussels, 1830 was somewhat controversial, since, at the time, it was considered taboo to paint images of the Belgian Revolution. The central focus of the composition is Charles Rogier, a passionate leader of the Belgian Revolution of 1830 and future Prime Minister. Rogier is seen surrounded by a cheering crowd of Liège patriots holding a flag proclaiming: “Victory or Death to Brussels.”

Two years later, in 1880, Soubre painted Arrival of Charles Rogier Liège and Volunteers in Brussels, 1830. Once again the focus of the image is Rogier, the ardent patriot; however, in this later painting the inscription “Victory or Death to Brussels” is removed.

To acknowledge his civil service, Soubre was awarded the Knight of the Order of Leopold, one of the highest honors in Belgium.

Le départ des volontaires liégeois pour Bruxelles (1830) (Museum of Walloon Art, Liège)

Arrivée de Charles Rogier et des volontaires liégeois à Bruxelles (1830) (Army Royal Museum, Brussels)

Frederick Howard Michael (British, 1892-1929)

Frederick Howard Michael (British, 1892-1929), oil on canvas, signed and dated 1897, 24″ x 36″

The intriguing and distinctly British genre of Victorian fairy painting was inspired by mythology, literature, and legend. Prominent artists crafted magical scenes that depicted ethereal creatures set in pastoral landscapes; whether submissive and demure or seductive and devious, female figures and fairies were a delightful distraction from the social and political turmoil as England transformed from an agricultural island into an industrial superpower.

Titania, Queen of the Fairies, from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, sleeps in the forest after being anointed with the juices from a magic flower: “What thou seest when thou wake, Do it for thy true love take.”

Adolphe Jourdan (French, 1825‐1889)

Adolphe Jourdan (French, 1825‐1889) painting dated c. 1860

Jourdan was born in 1825 in the city of Nimes, a city in southern France. At nineteen, he began his training as a painter at the School of Fine Arts in Paris (École des Beaux-Arts), studying under Charles Francois Jalabert, a French Academic artist.

Jourdan delighted audiences in Europe and in the United States with his sentimental domestic genre scenes and romantic visions of motherhood. He began exhibiting at the Paris Salon of Painting in 1855, receiving medals in 1864 and 1866. In addition to the French salons, Jourdan exhibited in numerous galleries in New York. After being honored on both continents, Jourdan was employed by a prominent Parisian art dealer to paint replicas of master works, a highly lucrative venture for 19th century artists. His version of Alexandre Cabanel’s famed painting, The Birth of Venus (1864), is replicated frequently, often mistaken as the original image.

Although trained as an Academic painter, Jourdan was respected and admired by some of the greatest French Post-Impressionist painters. On a visit to Pont-Aven in 1866, Jourdan met Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin and developed a lasting friendship.  He was also admired by Vincent Van Gogh, as evidenced by the letters Van Gogh  wrote to his brother, Theo.

Van Gogh wrote to his brother in 1874 and listed the artists he admired most – Jourdan among this impressive list:

From: Vincent van Gogh

To: Theo van Gogh

Date: London, beginning of January 1874

My dear Theo,

Thanks for writing.

I sincerely wish you a very happy New Year. … I saw from your letter that you have art in your blood, and that’s a good thing, old chap. I’m glad you like Millet, Jacque, Schreyer, Lambinet, Frans Hals …. How I’d like to talk to you about art again, but now we can only write to each other ….

I’m writing below a few names of painters whom I like very much indeed: Scheffer, Delaroche, Hébert, Leys, Tissot, Lagye, George Saal, Israëls, Anker, Knaus, Vautier, Jourdan, ….

and another letter written by Van Gogh to his brother Theo:

From: Vincent van Gogh

To: Theo van Gogh

Date: Arles, Friday, 3 May 1889

My dear Theo,

…. Ah, when I wrote to you that we mustn’t forget to appreciate what’s good in those who aren’t Impressionists, I didn’t exactly mean to say that I was urging you to admire the Salon beyond measure, but rather a heap of people like, for example, Jourdan, who has just died in Avignon, Antigna, Feyen-Perrin, all those whom we knew so well before, when we were younger, why forget them or why attach no importance to their present-day equivalents?






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