• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2773

    Twentieth Century Art

    4 December 2007, Amsterdam

  • Lot 102

    Gustave De Smet (BELGIAN, 1877-1943)

    Meisje in het blauw - Girl in blue

    Price Realised  


    Gustave De Smet (BELGIAN, 1877-1943)
    Meisje in het blauw - Girl in blue
    signed 'Gust. De Smet' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    93 x 73.5 cm.
    Painted in 1928.

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    Gustave De Smet returned from Amsterdam in 1919 and once again settled along the banks of the river Lys. His style had changed greatly during the war years and he was now about to embark on his mature period. "It is a period of balance, the period in which Gustave De Smet's style was born, a style that consists of a strict composition, of an extremely simplified drawing." (P. Haesaerts, Laethem-St. Martin, Le village élu de l'art flamand, Brussels 1965, p. 282).

    Once De Smet was at ease with his mature style it changed little over the next twenty years. In the mid 1920s his palette began to brighten and De Smet reverted to the subject matter of the villagers, the farm and the fields. The very soil on which he lived and which his neighbours tilled to earn their bread, became the very heart of his paintings and led De Smet to paint in these years some of the greatest masterpieces of Flemish Expressionism. "These heroes are at the same time passionate, quiet and elementary. In the esthetic he invents, the same characteristics are found: robust simplicity, internal vigour, obsessional motionlessness. The alliance between those three qualities give the work its pictural magic, its enchanting powers, its plastic shining (...) his work is a transposition of the popular existence". (Haesaerts, op cit, p. 283).

    By so doing he was able to create his own world full of the expressive quality of the hard-working Flemish farmer and his family. Extreme simplification gave his work an evocative power and force of expression of rare intensity.

    In the years 1927 and 1928 De Smet made several monumental portraits of women in frontal position, which dominate the canvas (fig. 1). Meisje in het blauw belongs to this group of masterpieces. De Smet was a sublime colourist and as Boyens states about the present lot: the skin of the paintlayer of the female figure is applied in refined tones of the metallic timbres blue and grey, mixed in places with a light pink .(Boyens, op.cit, p. 213)

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    Galerie Le Centaure, Brussels.
    J. Muller, Solothurn.

    Pre-Lot Text



    P.G. van Hecke and Emile Langui, Gustave De Smet, sa vie son oeuvre, Brussels 1945, no. 379, p. 245.
    P. Boyens, Gustave De Smet, Antwerp 1989, no. 753, p. 213, p. 216 (col.ill), p. 387.
    P. Boyens, Sint Martens Latem: Kunstenaarsdorp in Vlaanderen, Tielt 1998, p. 618 (ill.).


    Brussels, Galerie Georges Giroux, Rétrospective Gustave De Smet, 1929, no. 125.
    Villeneuve D'Ascq, Musée d'Art Moderne, Expression Flamande, 1988, p. 81.
    Oostend, Provinciaal Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Rétrospective Gustave De Smet, 1989, no. 109.
    Deinze, Museum van Deinze en Leiestreek, Schilders van het Leieland, 7 June-8 September 1991.
    Deurle, Museum Gust De Smet, Schilders van het Leieland, 1991, no. 57.
    Deurle, Museum Dhondt Dhaenens, De vrouw in het werk van Gustave De Smet, 3 July-4 September 1994.
    St. Martens-Latem, Latemse Kunstkring, Gustave De Smet en August De Smet, 21
    August-10 October 1999.