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  • "An Artist and his Muse" (1856), oil painting on canvas by Hendrik Frans Schaefels
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"An Artist and his Muse" (1856), oil painting | Hendrik Frans Schaefels

ITEM #: 911GMZ09

Price:  $5,750.00

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"AN ARTIST AND HIS MUSE" (1856) BY HENDRIK FRANS SCHAEFELS (BELGIAN, 1827-1904)
Signed and dated lower right; early illegible label verso w/ old gallery labels; in oil on panel
Item # 911GMZ09 


A quiet scene depicting an artist waiting for inspiration, staring absently at his canvas with his brush at the ready while engaging with a young woman. The room is dark and dusky with a heavy atmosphere of light softened after bouncing off of the surface of tapestries and life-size sculptures before providing illumination to this corner of the room. Executed in oil on panel, the scene is signed "Hendrik Schaefels 1856" in the lower right corner and the reverse of the panel retains an old yellowed label with a nearly illegible hand written inscription that perhaps describes the painting - the notation of 1856 can be made out and it appears to be signed "Richards". Old gallery labels are scattered around the edges.

Hendrik Frans Schaefels was born in Antwerp in December of 1827 to Hendrik Raphael Schaefels, an artist and teacher of decorative arts at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. He studied landscape painting under Jan Baptiste de Jonghe and marine painting under Jakob Albrecth Michael Jacobs at the Academy; Jacobs' influence on his painting was significant and remained evident in his lifelong affinity for seascape paintings as well as his taste for broad-scale romantic compositions. From 1842-44 he worked in the studio of cityscape painter Jan Michiel Ruyten.

In 1844, a seascape painting by the 17 year old Schaefels was accepted at the tri-annual Salon in Antwerp. In 1849, the full view of Jacobs' influence could be seen in Schaefels powerful romantic submission of "Battle of the Avenger" to the Paris Salon. Schaefels was effective at satisfying the Romantic idealism that gripped Belgium during the early years of his career, as public interest in scenes of greatness, glory and notable historical events was heightened by the recent establishment of Belgium as an independent state in 1830. His works were further presented at the British Institution in 1860 and retrospective Salon exhibitions in 1880 and 1905.

While he excelled at these powerful scenes, Schaefels was very effective at more modest works, producing a large volume of genre figure paintings, seascapes, city scenes, canal views, naval battles and landscapes of the picturesque. He also worked as an illustrator and was well regarded for his significant contribution to the revival of etching in Antwerp where he died in 1904.

Relevant Literature:

  • E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Vol. XII, Gründ, 2006, p. 523-24
  • Dictionary of Belgian Painters Born Between 1750 and 1875, Berko & Berko, 1981, p. 578-9
  • A Dictionary of Artists Who Have Exhibited Works in the Principal London Exhibitions from 1760 to 1893, Graves, 1973, p. 246
  • Popular 19th Century Painting: A Dictionary of European Genre Painters, Hook & Poltimore, 1986, p. 145, p. 166

Museum Collections:

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art [collection of 18 etchings]
  • Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago ["Faust and Margaret" (1863)]
  • RISD Museum ["Return of the Sea Beggars" (1876)]
  • Leeds Museums and Galleries ["The Death of Nelson"]
  • National Maritime Museum, London [etchings]
  • Antwerp Steen Museum [13 sketches of monuments of Antwerp circa 1863-70]
  • Kortrijk Museum ["The Feast of St. Job in Antwerp" (1858)]
  • Antwerp Museum [Algésiras at the battle of Trafalgar" (1879), "The Siege of Vlissingen by an English Fleet in 1809" (1890)]

Measurements: 11 1/2" H x 14 1/8" W [panel]; 17 3/4" H x 20 1/2" W x 2 1/2" D [frame]

Condition Report:
Professionally cleaned. Very minor surface touchups. Gentle crackling to paint throughout. Early frame with wear, chipping and loss throughout.