ALEXIS DE LEEUW
Belgian, fl. 1848-1883
Encounter by a Frozen Pond
Oil on canvas | Signed lower right "A. de Leeuw"
Item # 109EJG10A
A brilliant work of nostalgia by Belgian Romantic Alexis de Leeuw, it captures an older gentleman standing beside his sleigh while his horses relax and feed on some hay between jobs. He has a jovial expression on his face, looking off into the distance while chatting away as she eyes his goods carefully, perhaps choosing which ones to add to her basket. The sleigh is filled with barrels, baskets stuffed with hay to cushion the various goods hidden in them and glass bottles and linens. Just beyond the feeding trough is a rustic cottage with a sagging thatched roof, the chickens and ducks poking around the snow for bugs and seeds under the cover of the barren trees. The scene is set at golden hour as the sun is setting and a full spectrum of pinks, oranges, purples and blues cascade across the cloudy skies.
This scene apparently was popular enough for de Leeuw to paint it at least one other time, that example being offered on the open-market a decade ago at Christie's (Sale 3012, 13 November 2012, "Old Masters and 19th Century Art", lot 165) under the title of "Sleigh Driver" and executed in the same dimensions. While the detail is notably better in the present example with colors more vibrant and striking, offering a more complete depiction of the animals and the various decorative elements in the scene, the essence of the scene is faithfully captured in both examples. That example was signed lower left while this example is signed lower right. It was formerly with the London galleries of Frost & Reed and the label is retained on the reverse of the painting.
An incredibly fine painting that was been beautifully preserved through the years, capturing a crisp glimpse into the rustic beauty of winter in the late 19th century.
A Romantic landscape and animal painter born in Bruges, Belgium, Alexis De Leeuw was active from 1848 through 1883 and spent many years living and working in England. He exhibited in the 1860s at the Royal Academy, the British Institute of Art, the galleries of Suffolk Street and the Royal Hiberian Academy. Distinctly influenced by the Dutch Romantics, he specialized in idyllic winter landscapes with horses and dogs and grew a strong reputation for these paintings. He also painted a number of pastoral landscapes, but his winter scenes were his most sought-after works and were widely reproduced in Christmas greeting cards.
Artist Listings & Bibliography:
- A Dictionary of Artists Who Have Exhibited Works in the Principal London Exhibitions From 1760 to 1893, Graves, 1973, p. 77
- E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Vol. VIII, Gründ, 2006, p. 719-720
- Lexicon of the Belgian Romantic Painters, Flippo, 1981
- The Dictionary of Belgian Painters Born Between 1750 & 1875, Berko, 1981
Measurements: 30 1/4" H x 50 1/8" W [canvas, noted on label verso as 29 1/2" H x 49 1/2" W]; 35 3/4" H x 55 3/4" W x 2 1/2" D [frame]
Relined. Professionally conserved: surface cleaned, very minor inpaint to losses, sealed in traditional Damar varnish. Under UV showing minimal surface restoration: vertical line center in the sky (left of tree), 3 specks in the sky upper left quadrant, no other apparent restoration. Light surface craquelure throughout as expected. Housed in a good period giltwood frame with chipping, surface wear and delamination/cracking of gesso in a few areas. A very fine presentation, ready to place.