Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Almost pre-Raphaelite work by largely forgotten Belgian artist

Horta, from Belgium, sells on 29 May 2018 a "De Cramer" large work on paper (65 by 90 cm) depicting 'The Sacrament", estimated at 1,500 to 2,000 Euro.

The deeply religious work dates probably to about 1900 and is a late Neogothic example of the renewed interest in the Early Netherlandish painters.

It is relatively unusual as a Belgian painting showing also some Pre-raphaelite inspiration, e.g. in the face of the Vrigin, which is much stronger than usual with Flemish Primitives, and reminds me of the typical English redheads of the period (or the women in Symbolist works of the same time), though without any of the erotic elements common in much of these works.

The artist is only identified by the auction house as "De Cramer". The painting is signed by "De Cramer R", and this is short for RenĂ© de Cramer (1876-1951), who has an RKD entry.  This work depicts the Madonny of the Rosary with Pius V (who created the Feast of the Madonna of the Rosary) and Leo XIII, who was pope until his death in 1903: presumably the work was created during his pontificate. 

De Cramer studied at the Academy of Saint Luke in Ghent, where he obtained the first prize for painting in 1898.

Postcard for the 1913 Exhibition
He became mostly known as an illustrator for books and posters, who also made many decorations for the 1913 World Exhibition in Ghent. He became a professor of drawing at the Ghent University and the Ghent Academy, and dean of the Guild of Saint Luke (even though that position was purely honorific, not something important like in the Middle Ages). He also painted war memorials in chruches in Ghent.

Most of his large sacle work can be found in chruches and monasteries. In the crypt of the Basilica of Lisieux (France), he produced mosaics.

His work is completely out of fashion. Pre-Raphaelite and Art Nouveau works are very popular, but this highly religious, static version of it is hard to sell. Coupled with a quasi-unknown name, due to the fact that very few of his works come onto the market, and you get a good artist which is hard to sell. As a good example of a rather short-lived local school, the Ghent Neogothical school inspired by Pugin, the Pre-Raphaelites, and early Jugendstil, it is worth its estimate easily, but whether it will actually sell is not clear.

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