Clémence van den Broeck (1843 – 1922)
An Eastern Beauty
Oil on Panel
Signed lower right
31 x 39 ¼in, 79 x 100 cm
Born in 1843 in the Belgian municipality of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Clémence van den Broeck was one of the most accomplished Flemish artists of the Nineteenth Century School. Van den Broeck pursued her artistic training in Belgium under the genre painter Adolf Alexander Dillens (1821-1877) as well as the naturalistic landscape painter Edmond de Schampheleer (1824-99), who also taught the equally talented female Belgian landscape artist Euphrosine-Joséphine Beernaert (1831-1901). Having completed her artistic studies, Clémence then left her native country and like many aspiring painters travelled to Paris, where she established great repute and won many awards including being made an Officier d’Academie de France.
Clémence van den Broeck distinguished herself primarily as a painter of genre scenes, portraits and still-lifes, though she also depicted a number of very fine architectural views, especially interiors. On very rare occasions she also painted oriental scenes. As such this and another oil depicting a similarly sensuous eastern beauty accompanied by a parrot are the only known Orientalist paintings by her. The present oil, which is a tour de force, can be considered to be one of her very finest paintings in which she excelled as a portraitist as well as a master of still-life. In it she places the beautiful model, who may have been a portrait of herself, within an exotic eastern setting. No expense has been spared in describing the variety of luxurious draperies and assortment of oriental carpets that are interspersed with a terracotta jug and musical instruments. As such it can be compared with a painting by the artist’s former teacher Adolf Dillens, whose portrait of his wife, shows her wearing eastern dress and reclining on a mass of exotic rugs and drapery (sold at Christie’s 13th May 2014, lot 31).
Highly individual and undaunted by the conventions of her day, van den Broeck was a keen traveller who spent a number of years during the 1890s living in Canada, where she won many honours and likewise in America where during the early twentieth century she taught drawing, painting and sculpture from her studio at Miami Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. She however spent the majority of her life in Paris but eventually returned to Belgium where she died in 1922 at Ukkel.
Today one can occasionally find works by Clémence van den Broeck on the open market but seldom a painting of this calibre. In addition to those paintings by her in private collections one can also admire her work in public collections such as Intérieur de l’Église de Jérusalem à Bruges which is owned by the Musée Royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique.