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 Antoine Wiertz

Antoine Wiertz

Birth
Dinant, Arrondissement de Dinant, Namur, Belgium
Death 18 Jun 1865 (aged 59)
Brussels, Arrondissement Brussel-Hoofdstad, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium
Burial Ixelles, Arrondissement Brussel-Hoofdstad, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium
Memorial ID 5926 · View Source
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Belgian Romantic Painter and Sculptor. His paintings were often morbid in nature that reflected his attraction to horror. He was born in Dinant, Belgium to a relatively poor family. In 1820 he entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp Belgium and in 1821 King William I of the Netherlands awarded him an annual stipend. In November 1829 he moved to Paris, France where he studied the old masters at the Louvre and remained there until May 1832. He landed the prestigious Prix de Rome only at his second attempt in 1832, which enabled him to go to Rome, Italy, where he resided from May 1834 until February 1837, after which he established himself as a painter in Liege, Belgium. While in Rome, he painted on his first great work, "Greeks and Trojans Fighting For the Body of Patrocles" (1836) and it was exhibited in Antwerp in 1837, where it met with some success. In 1838 he submitted the work for the Paris Salon, but it arrived too late and was refused. At the Paris Salon of 1839, he showed his "Patrocles," but also three other works, "Madame Laetitia Bonaparte on Her Deathbed," "The Fable of the Three Wishes - Human Insatiability," and "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 rancor against art critics and against Paris, as he expressed in his virulent pamphlet "Bruxelles Capitale," Paris province. His mother died in 1844 and he left Liege in 1845 to settle in Brussels for good. During this period he painted "Beauty and Death" (1847), which remains perhaps his most famous work. Dissatisfied with the shiny effect of oil painting, he developed a new technique that combined the smoothness of oil painting with the speed of execution and the dullness of painting in fresco. This technique of matte painting entailed the use of a mixture of colors, turpentine and petrol on Holland, a coarse linen cloth used especially for furnishing. His "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 into delirious imagery, like "Hunger, Madness and Crime" (1853), "The Reader of Novels" (1853), "The Suicide" (1854), "The Premature Burial" (1854), and "The Last Gun" (1855). Additionally, he 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 "The Four Ages of Humanity" (1860 to 1862), reproduced in marble by Auguste Franck. After difficult negotiations with the Belgian government, he finally was able to fulfill his dream, which was to turn his last studio into a museum for his works. The Belgian State bought a piece of land and funded the construction of a huge hall to accommodate the painter's monumental works. In exchange, he donated all his works to the State, on the condition they should remain in his studio both during and after his lifetime. He died at his studio in Brussels, Belgium at the age of 59. His museum, the Antoine Wiertz Museum is now one of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.

Bio by: William Bjornstad


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 23 Jul 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5926
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Antoine Wiertz (22 Feb 1806–18 Jun 1865), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5926, citing Ixelles Communal Cemetery, Ixelles, Arrondissement Brussel-Hoofdstad, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium ; Maintained by Find A Grave .