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Oil painting - Landscape with donkey
  • Landscape with donkey
    Verboeckhoven, Eugène, born 1798 - died 1881
  • Enlarge image

Landscape with donkey

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Brussels (painted)

  • Date:

    1846 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Verboeckhoven, Eugène, born 1798 - died 1881 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on panel

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Joshua Dixon

  • Museum number:

    1085-1886

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Eugène Joseph Verboeckhoven (1798-1881) was taught at first by his father, the sculptor Barthélemy Verboeckhoven, before attending the Ghent Academy where he was a pupil of the landscape painter Balthasar-Paul Ommeganck (1755-1826). He moved to Brussels in 1827, where he became director of the Musée de Bruxelles and later a teacher at the Académie Royale. He had many pupils among whom Louis-Pierre Verwée (1807-1877), the brothers Charles (1815-1894) and Edmond Tschaggeny (1818-1873). He also painted staffage for other painters' landscapes such as Jean-Baptiste De Jonghe (1785-1844), Henri van Assche (1774-1841), Barend Cornelis Koekkoek (1803-1862) and Louis-Pierre Verwée. He was also a prolific engraver.

This painting, showing a donkey silhouetted against a white and blue sky, is a typical example of Verboeckhoven's depictions of animals in carefully arranged, flat landscapes. He also executed scenes of animals and farmers in the farmyard, of which the V&A's collection has an example (see 1528-1869). The artist was deeply influenced by the 17th-century imagery and the work of Paulus Potter, the great animal painter of the Golden Age.

Physical description

In a flat landscape, a donkey in profile with, before him, a stump surmounted by foliage and a pond at his feet.

Place of Origin

Brussels (painted)

Date

1846 (painted)

Artist/maker

Verboeckhoven, Eugène, born 1798 - died 1881 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on panel

Marks and inscriptions

'Eugène Verboeckhoven f. 1846'
Signed and dated by the artist, left

Dimensions

Height: 12.7 cm estimate, Width: 17 cm estimate, :

Object history note

Bequeathed by Joshua Dixon, 1886
Ref: Parkinson, Ronald, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860, (Victoria & Albert Museum, HMSO, London, 1990), p.xx.
Joshua Dixon (1811-1885), was the son of Abraham Dixon of Whitehaven and brother of George Dixon (who was head of the foreign merchants firm of Rabone Brothers in Birmingham 1883-98). Educated at Leeds Grammar School, and was deputy chairman of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway Company 1869-70. Died Winslade, near Exeter, 7 December 1885. Bequeathed all his collection of drawings, watercolours and oil paintings to the Bethnal Green Museum; they have since been transferred to the V&A. He also collected engravings, Japanese vases and panels, and bronze and marble sculpture.

Historical significance: Verboeckhoven specialised in classical landscape painting under the influence of his master Balthasar-Paul Ommeganck and particularly favoured the 17th-century imagery. He discovered the work of the great animal painter Paulus Potter (1625-1654) in the early 30s and remained extremely impressed by him. The present painting showing a donkey in a flat landscape is a typical example of Verboeckhoven’s borrowing from Paulus Potter’s famous animal studies. It also relates to Nicolaes Berchem’s (1620-1683) numerous animals studies, especially Two studies of donkeys, (RF642) Louvre, Paris.
The present donkey is identical as the one depicted in another Verboeckhoven’s composition (see V&A 1532-1869) even though it is painted from a closer point of view. This repetition witnesses Verboeckhoven’s trend to draw from a repertoire of motifs and reuse them in many compositions. Many drawing showing studies of animals such as donkeys can be found for instance
This compositional scheme also takes over Paulus Potter’s trend to silhouette animals in profile against a clear bright sky such as in his famous composition including imposing standing bulls.
Animal portraits were popular during the 17th century as they generally presented sheep, donkeys and cows conceived as embodiments of the Dutch national pride.
Art from the Golden Age was extremely appealing to landscape painters of the 19th century also because it represented a national glory and showed motifs such as cattle, scenes in the countryside, great perspective plans that renew the national pride in those years of political changes: the kingdom of the Netherlands unifying the northern and the southern Netherlands was proclaimed in 1815, and even after the independence of modern Belgium, the links remained strong.
Many comparable works can be found in private and public collections such as the Royal Collection, London (see Landscape with animals, Inv. RCN407874) and other similar pictures are in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection (see 493-1870 and 1085-1886 in which the same donkey is represented in the same position).
After the 1830s, Verboeckhoven’s work shows little evolution, but his paintings were very popular and rather expensive. He received several prestigious commissions and he obtained titles and decorations throughout Europe.

Historical context note

The artistic relationship between the Northern and the Southern Netherlands, that is modern-day Holland and Belgium, were very strong during the 19th century especially after the proclamation of the Kingdom of Netherlands in 1815. The Prix de Rome was awarded equally to Antwerp and Amsterdam artists, even after the independence of Belgium in 1830 and the great tradition of the Golden Age was still vivid in the first half of the century. The majority of Belgian art of the first half of the 19th century, including history painting, genre scenes, landscape and portrait paintings, articulated a new national pride which nevertheless drew upon French academic taste. Such artists as Jean-Bernard Duvivier (1762-1837), Henry Leys (1815-1869) and Karel Verlat (1824-1890) made extensive use of these renewed genres in their oeuvre. Focusing on the achievement of a greater realism, Belgian artists travelled a great deal, not only for training purposes in the tradition of their artistic predecessors but for the sake of discovering new surroundings and making new acquaintances: Paris was the favourite destination. While Italy also remained a popular destination, the majority of these artists tended to move on to other areas of interest, such as Morocco, less for their artistic traditions, and more for their exotic aspects.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Landscape with Donkey', Eugène-Joseph Verboeckhoven, 1846

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 101-102, cat. no. 222.
Shaw Sparrow, 'The Dixon bequest at Bethnal Green' in Magazine of Art, XV, 1892, p. 163 f, repr.

Materials

Oil paint; Panel

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Donkey; Pond; Foliage; Landscape

Categories

Paintings

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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