Neoclassicism and Romanticism


(Neoclassicism, Romanticism and Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map)


Antoine Wiertz


Antoine Wiertz

(b Dinant, 22 Feb 1806; d Brussels, 18 June 1865).

Belgian painter and sculptor. He was from very humble origins, but his talent for drawing was detected at an early age. He was sent to the Antwerp Academie, where he attended classes given by W. J. Herreyns (1743–1827) and Mathieu Ignace Van Brée. During a stay in Paris from 1829 to 1832 he came into contact with the Romantic painters, in particular Théodore Géricault, who fostered his admiration for Rubens. In 1832 he won the Belgian Prix de Rome and in 1834 left for Italy where the works of Raphael and, above all, Michelangelo made an overwhelming impression on him. In Rome he abandoned the landscapes and scenes from Roman life, for which he showed a certain talent, and embarked on a much more ambitious work, the Greeks and the Trojans Contesting the Body of Patroclus (1835; Brussels, Mus. Wiertz). The painting proved the turning-point in Wiertz’s career. Its frenzied composition and violently contorted figures excited considerable interest in Rome. Children fled from it with cries of horror, a fact that delighted the painter. Bertel Thorvaldsen commented, ‘This young man is a giant’—a somewhat hasty judgement, constantly repeated by later biographers, which nevertheless determined his subsequent development. In Antwerp and Liège Wiertz was at once acclaimed. He then sent the picture to Paris, expecting final consecration of his genius. However, it was badly hung in the Salon, went unnoticed by the public and was criticized by the press. Wiertz’s bitter disappointment was expressed in an undying hatred of Paris, which he never ceased to attack for its dissipation, stupidity and artistic incompetence. In 1839 he settled in Liège with his mother, painting grandiose mythological and historical subjects, which he believed would immortalize him, and portraits to earn a living. The latter, such as the Artist’s Mother (1838; Brussels, Mus. A. Anc.), were passable, while the former were merely superficial pastiches of Rubens and Michelangelo. However, the new Belgian State was keen to discover ‘geniuses of the national art’ and admired his weakly Raphaelesque Education of the Virgin (1843, Brussels, Mus. Wiertz) and in particular the Revolt of the Rebel Angels (1842; Brussels, Mus. Wiertz), a huge picture that Wiertz painted in a few weeks, in an effort to match the panache of Rubens’s brushwork.





Two Young Girls or the Beautiful Rosine
Oil on canvas, 140 x 100 cm
Musée Wiertz, Brussels


The Reader of Novels


Les Grecs et les Troyens se disputant le corps de Patrocle




L'inhumation precipitee


The Philosopher


La puissance humaine n'a point de limite


La jeune sorciere


Le phare du Golgotha




Christ in the Tomb


Eve experiencing her first guilt after sinning






Le soufflet d'une dame belge


La civilisation du XIXeme siecle


Plus philosophique qu'on ne pense


Les partis juges par le Christ


Baigneuses et satyres


Le bouton de rose


La coquette habillee


La coquette deshabillee


Une tete de mort




Guillotined Head


Une scene du carnaval de Rome


La fable des trois souhaits


Les quatre ages de la vie humaine





The Suicide


Things of the Present Before the Men of Future


A Scene in Hell


Hunger, Madness, Crime

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