• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7438

    19th Century European Art

    23 January 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 84

    Florent Willems (Belgian, 1823-1905)

    Le départ pour la chasse au faucon

    Price Realised  

    Florent Willems (Belgian, 1823-1905)
    Le départ pour la chasse au faucon
    signed and dated 'Florent Willems 1890' (lower centre)
    oil on panel
    63½ x 41½ in. (161.3 x 105.4 cm.)
    Painted in 1890.

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    Florent Willems studied at the Academy of Mechelen (Maline) and worked as a restorer to support himself and pay for his education. At the tender age of 16 he had already sold one of his works for a respectable 250 francs, quite a sum at that time. In 1842 he received a medal during an exhibit in Brussels. The King of Belgium bought one of his works thus confirming him as one of the leading artists of his time. Thereafter Willems was often commissioned by the court to paint 16th and 17th-century costume paintings.

    The present lot is an important example of Willems skill in both the rendering of fabrics and figures and the creation of a historical setting. He succeeds at invoking the atmosphere of a historical scene as if the spectator were a firsthand witness.

    It has been suggested that the central figures in the present composition depict Archdukes Albert and Isabella of Austria, Governors of the Low Countries at the beginning of the 17th Century. Both were very keen hunters and during their reign a number of edicts were passed, which still today form the basis of hunting laws in the Low Countries.

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