Verboeckhoven's Sheep. The Rediscovery of Belgium's Nineteenth-Century Painters
(Jo Tollebeek) The Low Countries - 2007, № 15, pp. 105-111
Those who frequented the auction rooms and antique shops of Brussels over the past few years will often have met them: obscure nineteenth-century painters with unfamiliar names, but whose mental world was wide-ranging and full of variety. The visitor could be drawn into idyllic landscapes and carefree scenes in cosy interiors, but just as often he was faced with blood and carnage. He could look at portraits of men in black, smartly dressed in the uniform of the bourgeois, but whose eyes betrayed intense emotion. Auctioneers sold panels with macabre and bizarre images – Death on horseback, giants, hourglasses. They sold canvasses bearing images that were all too realistic –potato harvests, funeral repasts, exhausted miners. Meanwhile, Rhenish Romanticism changed hands and historical paintings were being turned out in vast numbers. Italian country-folk rubbed shoulders with national heroes. How could all these images possibly emerge from the same nineteenth-century mindset? What kind of mindset was it and how can one enter into it? In particular, why was all this not noticed earlier? Where had they been all these years, those paysages animés and sheep's heads that nowadays are so enthusiastically bought at auction?
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