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    Sale 7599

    Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale

    24 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 70

    Frits van den Berghe (Belgian, 1883-1939)

    Bloemen over de stad (Fleurs sur la ville)

    Price Realised  


    Frits van den Berghe (Belgian, 1883-1939)
    Bloemen over de stad (Fleurs sur la ville)
    signed 'vd Berghe' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    45¾ x 34¾ in. (116.3 x 88.4 cm.)
    Painted in 1929-1930

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    Frits van den Berghe was one of the most interesting Belgian expressionist artists of the first part of the twentieth century. He started his career at the turn of the century influenced by the Symbolist and Luminist artists who were grouped in Laethem-Saint-Martin. Soon afterwards, around 1908, he wrote a manifesto together with his friend and fellow artist Gustave De Smet opposing Impressionism 'à la Claus.' During the First World War, he lived in the Netherlands, a period of existential doubt which slowed down his pictorial activity. Nevertheless the Cubism of the French artist Henri Le Fauconnier as well the Futurist movement were a revelation for him. The magazine Das Kunstblatt to which Gustave De Smet had subscribed opened the door for Van den Berghe to the German Expressionist movement. On his return in 1922 the art critics and dealers P.G. van Hecke and André de Ridder were of overriding importance for his first breakthrough to the gallery Sélection and in 1926 to the gallery Le Centaure. The international allure of Le Centaure, which exhibited the works of Lhote, Leger, Arp, Klee, Foujita, Zadkine, Miro and Ernst, encouraged van den Berghe's surrealist development. The Max Ernst exhibition at Le Centaure in 1927 had a great impact on him and from that moment on, he tried to detach himself from traditional painting.

    Between 1928 and 1931, Frits van den Berghe revealed in a prodigal and almost exultant way his new concept in flower paintings, in which he wanted to open the barriers between the world of phenomena and the irrational, between life and death. Most often in his flower paintings, we observe a lugubrious city in the background; we observe richly coloured and luxuriant vegetation at various stages of metamorphosis. Van den Berghe approached the city as a place where the hermit is left with his dreams and mental tensions. In Fleurs sur la ville we observe rough moulds and risen mushrooms, polyps, grimacing flowers and human forms sometimes very close to the stage of degeneration or decomposition. In this painting, the city in the background, empty and sterile runs the risk of being taken over by this unrestrained growth.

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    Madeleine Schauvlieghe, Ghent, by whom acquired from the artist in 1933, until at least 1954.
    Edward Anseele, Ghent, by 1969.
    Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, Amsterdam, 23 May 1991, lot 35.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text



    P. Haesaerts, Sint-Martens-Latem, gezegend oord van de Vlaamse kunst, Brussels, 1965, no. 708.
    E. Langui, Frits van den Berghe, 1883-1939: catalogue raisonné de son oeuvre peint, Brussels, 1966, no. 342 (illustrated).
    E. Langui, Fritz van den Berghe, 1883-1939, The Man and His Work, Antwerp, 1968, no. 342, p. 311 (illustrated).
    C. van Damme, 'Surrealistische aspecten in het oeuvre van Frits van den Berghe', in Museummagazine, no. 5-6, Antwerp, 1986, p. 98.
    P. Boyens, Frits van den Berghe, 1883-1939, Antwerp, 1999, no. 654 (illustrated p. 447).


    Ghent, Palais des Fêtes du Vooruit, Frits Van den Berghe en Josef Cantré, April - May 1933.
    Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Hommages à Gustave de Smet, Frits van den Berghe, Fernand Schirren et Hippolyte Daeye, October - November 1945, no. 43.
    Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Zeven Belgische Schilders: Jakob Smits, James Ensor, Henri Evenepoel, Gustave De Smet, Rik Wouters, Fritz van den Berghe, Constant Permeke, December 1945 - January 1946, no. 76.
    Bern, Kunsthalle, Sept peintres belges, January - February 1946, no. 77; this exhibition later travelled to Paris, Musée de l'Orangerie, March - April 1946 no. 75.
    Paris, Musée national d'Art moderne, Laethem-Saint-Martin: colonie d'artistes en Flandre, 1890-1940, April - May 1948, no. 58; this exhibition later travelled to Luxembourg, Musées de l'Etat, May - June 1948.
    Venice, XXVe Biennale Internazionale Biennale d'Arte di Venezia, June - October 1950, no. 68.
    Knokke, Gemeentelijk Casino, Ve Festival belge d'été, June - July 1952, no. 14.
    Brussels, Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, Belgisch Expressionisme, November - December 1952, no. 144.
    Verviers, Société royale des Beaux-Arts, Rétrospective Frits van den Berghe, December 1952.
    Maastricht, Bonnefantenmuseum, Frits van den Berghe, August 1954, no. 23.
    Hasselt, Salle Onder de Toren, Frits van den Berghe, September 1954, no. 18.
    Tilburg, Paleis-Raadhuis, Frits van den Berghe, September - October 1954, no. 27 (illustrated).
    Brussels, Palais International des Beaux-Arts, Exposition Universelle et Internationale, April - October 1958, no. 38 (illustrated).
    Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Rétrospective Frits van den Berghe, May 1962, no. 66 (illustrated).
    Hamburg, Kunsthaus, Frits van den Berghe, March 1969, no. 51 (illustrated).
    Sint-Joost-Ten-Noode, Hôtel Charlier, Frits van den Berghe, May - June 1970, no. 40 (illustrated).
    Paris, Musée de l'Orangerie, L'art flamand d'Ensor à Permeke, February - April 1970, no. 12 (illustrated).
    Ghent, Museum voor schone Kunsten, Frits van den Berghe, December 1983 - March 1984, no. 127 (illustrated p. 159); this exhibition later travelled to Utrecht, Centraal Museum, March - May 1984.
    Altenburg, Lindenau-Museum, Internationale Sprachen der Kunst: Gemälde, Zeichnungen und Skulpturen der Klassischen Moderne aus der Sammlung Hoh, August - October 1998, no. 10, p. 40 (illustrated p. 41); this exhibition later travelled to Osnabrück, Kulturgeschichtliches Museum Felix-Nussbaum-Haus, February - May 1999; Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall, September 1999 - January 2000 and Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, March - July 2000.
    Hamburg, Ernst Barlach Haus, Kunst ohne Grenzen: Werke der internationalen Avantgarde von 1910 bis 1940 aus der Sammlung Hoh, January - April 2005, no. 40 (illustrated p. 56).