ART IN BELGIUM AND HOLLAND.
one particular. Of his mural paintings the strictly historical scenes
designed for the Hétel de Ville at Antwerp (p. 177) are perhaps
inferior to the less formally historical series rescued from his house
on its destruction and now preserved in the same hotel de ville.
A step in advance of Leys was taken by his pupil Henri de Braeke-
leer (1840-88), who united the past with the present by painting
(like Leys) the ancient saloons of Antwerp, but in their present
form and with figures in modern costume. De Braekeleer is fond
of introducing carpets and hangings with pronounced patterns,
globes, maps, etc. into his pictures, restraining their variegated
brilliance, however, with a matured taste. This artist, known as
the ‘painter of the window’, died insane at an early age, and his
works today are amongst the most prized. Antoine Wiertz (1806-
65) offers the most complete contrast to Leys. The latter confined
himself strictly within the limits of his own capacity; the former
endeavoured continually to break through the barriers imposed
upon him by nature; so that it is difficult, in presence of the ec-
centricities of an obviously disordered brain, to arrive at a just
appreciation of the real achievements of the highly gifted artist
(Wiertz Museum, p. 141).
The historical school has ramified far and wide and to this day,
scially in Antwerp, has important adherents. The much ad-
mired portrait-painter Emile Wauters (b. 1846) first won his spurs
as a historical painter, and to the same school belonged Ferdinand
Pauwels (4830-1904), professor at Weimar and at Dresden, whose
best work was executed in the Cloth Hall at Ypres. These paint-
ers had exalted the realism of Flemish art in opposition to the
classicism of David and his followers, and in their turn they fin-
ally adopted pure naturalism, without idealization. Even before
the year 1850 we detect traces of this movement. The leading
genre-painters of the first half of the century — J. B. Madou
(1796-1877) in Brussels and Ferdinand de Braekeleer (1792-1883),
the father of Henri, in Antwerp — had rather devoted themselves
to depicting convivial scenes in the spirit of Teniers; but Charles
de Groux (1825-70) had within the same period, with his ‘Bank
of the Poor’, begun the series of touching scenes of social misery
that attract attention in Brussels Museum by the wonderful depth
of their sombre tones (pp. 119, 120). He was followed by Con-
stantin Meunier (1831-1905), who after an apprenticeship as a
sculptor, turned his attention to painting scenes from hospitals,
‘Trappist monasteries (p. 80), and similar subjects, and afterwards
became the great interpreter, both in painting and in sculpture,
of the ‘Black Country’ of Belgium.
It is commonly assumed that the presence of paintings by
Courbet in the Exhibition of 1854 gave the decisive impetus. But
in the central position of that exhibition hung cartoons and paint-
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K 29612:[a,1,11], Collectie Stad Antwerpen, Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience
Baedeker, Karl, Belgium and Holland, including the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg: handbook for travellers, K 29612:[a,1,11], Collectie Stad Antwerpen, Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience