Charles Soubre (Liege, Belgian, 1821‐1895), 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)