CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Early 20th-century Belgian art from the Museum of Foreign Art, Riga

Exhibition: 16 June 2007

From the museum website


The collection of the early 20th century Belgian art will be exposed at the Museum of Foreign Art in Riga from June 6 till July 29. The Museum’s collection contains all in all 54 paintings, more than 100 drawings and graphic sheets, 9 sculptures, 363 medals as well as the Belgian lace. The collection is an official gift to the Republic of Latvia in the 1930-s. The collection is completed under the protection of His Excellence Jānis Lazdiņš, the ambassador of the Republic of Latvia in the Kingdom of Belgium, and Paul Lambotte, the Commissar for the Foreign Exhibitions of the Kingdom of Belgium.
The Belgian art collection includes both Flemish and Valonian artists’ creation, reflecting sights of Brussels, rural landscapes of Belgium, portraits, figural compositions and still lifes.
In the early 20th century, new searches into the field of artistic design and means of expression led Belgian artists towards division into various groups. Links with the French impressionists promoted shaping of a particular kind of impressionism – the so called luminism. Another group – Life and Light – was established in 1904. This group is represented at the exhibition with the artist’s George Morren painting Landscape with Young Maidens. High Trees in Versailles.
Works of the artists belonging to the Lathem school, represent symbolist influence, whereas after the WW I they turn expressionist as, for instance, the painting Fruit Garden by Valerius de Saedeleer.
In 1928, the group Nervia is formed by Valonian artists. The Museum’s collection includes works of its founders Pierre Paulus, Léon Navez, Anto Carte, Louis Buisseret and others. The Nervia artists’ works are outstanding by graciousness and plasticity of their drawing as well as by well-balanced chiaroscuros. Pierre Paulus concentrates on depicting the industrial areas and workers’ daily life. The exhibition offers also sculptures by Georges Minne, Victor Rousseau, Emile François Poetou and other sculptors.
The largest amount of works in this collection belongs to the artist Armand Rassenfosse, who has created paintings, graphic sheets and drawings. There are particularly many elaborated women nudes. The works of the Belgian graphic artists reflect upon the prevailing contemporary artistic styles indicating the sense of their age.
The collection of Belgian medals comprises the period between the 19th and 20th centuries. While the medal art of the first part of the 19th century manifests an impact of French artists, around 1870, the original Belgian national feeling formed up. The exhibits are devoted to important historical events and personalities. A relevant fact is that the collection contains works of Augusts Bija, a Latvian artist. He was born in Riga, then studied in the Royal Academy of Art in Brussels and afterwards remained in Belgium, becoming a part of its artistic trend.

Latvian artists have also gained a strong impulse from the Belgian art of the 20th century. We should name Jānis Tīdemanis, Ģederts Eliass, Jānis Liepiņš and others in this context.