Victorian Jan Van Beers Framed Cruise Line Print
Condition consistent with age and history. Some foxing, discoloration and creases. Sealed in frame. Please use zoom feature to check item condition and contact us with any questions prior to purchasing. Thank you.
Approximate Frame Dimensions: 22.5" high x 15.5" wide x .5" deep
Approximate Print Dimensions: 20" high x 13.5" wide
Approximate Weight: 3.7 lbs.
A painter of portraits, history and genre scenes, Jan Van Beers was born in Belgium (Lierre), in 1852. He died in
France in 1927. He grew up in a highly cultural and artistic milieu, his father being a famous poet, and was
predestined for an artistic career, having befriended artists such as the composer Pierre Benoit,(1834-1901), whom
he will portray in 1883, or the painter Baron Henri Leys.
At an early age, he developped an exceptional talent for drawing and painting. Studying at the renowned Antwerp
Fine Arts Academy he soon became the leader of a group of young promising artists, known as the «Van Beers
clique». Among them, Piet Verhaert (1852-1908), Alexander Struys (1852-1941), et Jef Lambeaux (1852-1908).
This group of friends was famous for their mischief and eccentricities and used to walk around the town dressed
up in historic costumes. Van Beers, leading the troups, enjoyed dressing as Sir Van Dyck, and claimed to be related
These eccentricities aside, several art critics had been emphasizing his superior technical skills, comparing them
to those of the old masters only.
In 1878, in pursuit of fame and success, Van Beers moved to Paris and he started to work in the studio of A.
Stevens. He painted huge historical pieces, landscapes and small genre pictures at the same time. His historical
scenes , « Charles Quint as a child » (1879), and the «Triptych van Maerlant » are depicted in a very realistic style.
After 1879, he started presenting works consisting in genre scenes and modern life subjects painted in a
photo-realistic style. He painted very small , miniature like pictures, delicately brushed, hyperrealistic in their
details and extremely finished.Success was almost immediate, and , in 1880,when he presented his work « Soir
d'Eté » in the Paris Salon, art critics , in France, lauded his elegant and fine touch and remarked that no other
artist could ever surpass the picture's finish.
The following year, however, at the Brussels Salon of 1881, Van Beers found himself amid a scandal that would
upset the Belgian art world and, at the same time, give him instant recognition.
Van Beers exhibited two paintings at the Salon in Brussels. Both were in his new, miniature-like and hyperrealistic
style. « Lily », was a tiny portrait painting, depicting a charming pretty young girl. The second one, « The yacht
'Sirene' » was a more ambitious picture by its composition, even though of modest dimensions too. It was this
painting which was to become the subject of the turmoil. He was accused to have pushed his realistic style beyond
the boundaries of the possible, something never seen before ! In fact, the Belgian critics, Solvay and De Mons
among the fiercest, suspected him to have painted over a photograph, calling his work a « photo-peinture ».On
the other hand, the Review 'l'Art Moderne' defended him by suggesting that those were merely echoing comments
of some artists which were jealous of Van Beers' commercial success.
He, who had remained quiet in the Paris Salon, now decided to react promptly. He offered the critics to have both
his paintings scrapped off and checked by experts . If they could discover even the most remote trace of the use of
photography, Van Beers would pay them 10 000 francs for « Lily » , and 20 000 francs for « La Sirene », the prices
he was asking for them. At the opposite, if they couldn't find anything, they would have to pay this amount to the
Caisse de recours (a pension fund) of the Brussels artists.The critics refused the challenge, arguing that Van Beers
just had to recognize his mistake.
Then, on September 3, 1881, a new incident was going to happen, showing the artist right. During the short
absence of the guards in the Salon, an unknown person vandalised the « Sirene » by scratching off the face of the
young woman. Immediately the painting attracted even more attention and crowds of visitors, who wanted to
check by themselves if any trace of photography was visible, went to see it. Van Beers took this opportunity to
name a commission to examine the painting. It included the president of the Cercle Artistique et Littéraire of
Brussels, the artists Charles Verlat (1824-1890) and J.F. Portaels (1818-1895), and two specialists in photography and
chemistry. After a thoroughful examination, the commission's report cleared Van Beers of all charges and
concluded that he was : « an honest man ». This affair had marked Van Beers for the rest of his career, and contributed
in making him the well-known, rich and successful artist he had always aimed to be.