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  Antoine Wiertz

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Antoine Wiertz
 
 

Self-Portrait
 
 
Antoine Joseph Wiertz (22 February 1806 – 18 June 1865) was a Belgian romantic painter and sculptor.

Early life

Born in Dinant from a relatively poor family, he entered the Antwerp art academy in 1820. Thanks to his protector Pierre-Joseph de Paul de Maibe, a member of the Second Chamber of the States-General, king William I of the Netherlands awarded an annual stipend to Wiertz from 1821 onwards. Between November 1829 and May 1832, he stayed in Paris, where he studied the old masters at the Louvre.

In 1828, Wiertz came out second in the competition for the prestigious Prix de Rome which he attained on his second attempt in 1832; it enabled him to go to the French Academy at Rome, where he resided from May 1834 until February 1837. Upon his return, he established himself in Liège with his mother.

During his stay in Rome, Wiertz worked on his first great work, Les Grecs et les Troyens se disputant le corps de Patrocle ("Greeks and Trojans fighting for the body of Patroclus", finished in 1836), on a subject borrowed from book XVII of Homer's Iliad. It was exhibited in Antwerp in 1837, where it met with some success. Wiertz submitted the work for the Paris Salon of 1838, but it arrived too late and was refused.

Mature works
At the Paris Salon of 1839, Wiertz showed not only his Patrocles, but also three other works: Madame Laetitia Bonaparte sur son lit de mort ("Madame Laetitia Bonaparte on her deathbed"), La Fable des trois souhaits—Insatiabilité humaine ("The fable of the three wishes—Human insatiability") and Le Christ au tombeau ("Christ entombed"). Badly hung and lit, his entry elicited indifference on the part of the public, and provoked sarcasm among the critics. This second humiliation led to a profound rancour against art critics and against Paris, as expressed in his virulent pamphlet Bruxelles capitale, Paris province.

In 1844, Wiertz painted a second version of his Patrocles on an even bigger scale than the first (the 1836 version measures 3.85m by 7.03m; the 1844 version 5.20m by 8.52). The Rome version is now in the Museum of Walloon Art in Liège, the 1844 in the Wiertz Museum in Brussels.

After the Paris disaster, Wiertz veered more and more to the excessive. A fine example is the monumental La Chute des Anges rebelles ("The Fall of the rebellious Angels", 1841), on an arched canvas of 11.53m by 7.93m.

The death of his mother in 1844 was a terrible blow to the artist. He left Liège in 1845 to settle in Brussels for good. During this period he painted a confrontation of Beauty and Death, Deux jeunes filles—La Belle Rosine (1847), which remains perhaps his most famous work.

Dissatisfied with the shiny effect of oil painting, he developed a new technique combining the smoothness of oil painting with the speed of execution and the dullness of painting in fresco. This technique of mat painting entailed the use of a mixture of colours, turpentine and petrol on holland. La Lutte homérique ("The Homeric struggle", 1853) was the first big-scale painting executed in this technique. However, the components used in this technique are responsible for the slow decay of the works produced with it.

Many of his works from the 1850s have a social of philosophical message, often translated in delirious imagery, like Faim, Folie et Crime ("Hunger, Madness and Crime", 1853), La Liseuse de Romans ("The Reader of Novels", 1853), Le Suicide ("The Suicide", 1854), L'Inhumation précipitée ("The premature burial", 1854), Le Dernier Canon ("The last gun", 1855).

Wiertz was also a fine portrait painter, who made self-portraits at various ages. As a sculptor, he produced his most important project towards the end of his life: a series of plasters representing Les Quatre Âges de l'Humanité ("The Four Ages of Humanity", 1860–1862), reproduced in marble for the Wiertz museum by Auguste Franck.

Influenced mainly by Rubens and the late Michelangelo, Wiertz' monumental painting often moves between classical academism and lurid romanticism, between the grandiose and the ridiculous. Although his work was often derided as art pompier, his pictorial language nevertheless preannounced symbolism and a certain kind of surrealism, two currents that would be very strong in Belgian painting.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 



L'inhumation precipitee



The Philosopher


 


Guillotined Head
1855



Une scene du carnaval de Rome



La fable des trois souhaits



Les quatre ages de la vie humaine

 
 
 
 


A Giant of the Earth





One second after the death





Suicide





Autoportrait a l'age de 18 ans







Civilisation in the XIX century





Concierge




Education of the Virgin




Esmeralda








Happy times





Happy times






Haughtiness





Judgement of Christ





Les partis selon le Christ







Lonchamps in the Villa Borghese




Maria Mertens, c. 1860 - Museum M - Leuven, Belgium




Market-women





Mourning





Méhul par Wiertz





Orphans





Pitfall





Quasimodo





Scene from the Hell





Self-portrait





Self-portrait




Singing Lesson





The burned child





The light of Golgotha





The Lion of Waterloo

 
 
 

 
 
 
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