A rich and vibrant scene depicting a single proud rooster watching as a brood of hens gather together in the afternoon sun. A few peck at the ground, one searches through hay for bugs and one walks in the shadows while a dove and pigeons search the foreground pecking at the dirt. The light is so clear and brilliant, dimming and disappearing as the wall of the barn steals the light. In the distance a rural farmhouse with a thatched roof is seen situated among the grassy lawn before trees at the horizon.
The painting is executed on a wooden artist panel and is signed lower left in his typical script "E.R. Maes"; the back of the panel is oxidized with beveled back edges covered by framer's tape; an old label from an unknown gallery is affixed verso and reads "E.R. Maes / 197 POULTRY in a farmyard, signed on panel 9 3/4in. by 15 3/4in."
Born in Puurs, Belgium in 1849, Eugène Rémy Maes studied at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels where he received an honorable mention for his drawings at the age of 19. A large number of his paintings were executed in collaboration with Belgian painter David Col, whereby Maes executed the landscape work with the animals and Col painted the figures, often in humorous or endearing genre style scenes. He also worked with similar arrangements together with Jan Portielje. Much of his work, perhaps even a majority, was exported to American collections during his lifetime. Early in his career, the art dealer D'Huyvetter is believed to have advised him to also paint works under the name of his nephew Théo Van Sluys as a pseudonym, a story made more likely by the similarities of composition, style and technique between the two artists.
Maes stood out from his contemporaries by sheer quality of work, his inordinate attention to detail bringing scenes fully to life: his ability to capture feathers, hair, translucent straw and shadows with utmost accuracy make his works superior. He is believed to have died in Kontich, Belgium in 1931, though some sources note his death as 1912.
His work is infrequently found on the open market and maintains a stable high-four to low-five figure range on his work over the last fifty years. His Hen and Chicks measuring 10 1/2" x 14" sold at Christies, London (21 Nov 1997) for 7,475 GBP (approximately $ 12,000 USD at the time of sale) while his Hens and Rooster in a Farmyard (oil on panel, 9 3/4" x 13 3/4") sold at Christies, New York for $ 5,750 USD (12 Oct 1993). Similar in dimension and composition, his work Sleep of the Cat (oil on panel, 12" x 15 1/4") sold for $ 7,475 USD (19 Jan 1994) and his pair of paintings depicting poultry in the farmyard of nearly the same dimensions as the present work (26.5 cm x 36 cm) sold at Sotheby, Amsterdam on 14 April 2008 for 9,250 EUR (at the time approximately $ 14,615 USD).
Artist Listings & Further Reading: E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Vol. IX, Gründ, 2006, p. 8
Lexicon of the Belgian Romantic Painters, Flippo, 1981
Dictionary of Belgian painters born between 1750 & 1875, Berko, 1981
Measurements: 9 3/4" H x 15 3/4" W [panel]; 15 1/8" H x 21" W x 1 7/8" D [frame]
Condition Report: Contemporary frame in very good condition. Under UV showing touch ups to extreme edges where frame rubs. Surface clean and vibrant. Photos show back prior to being covered and re-wired for a clean presentation.
"Rooster and Hens” Antique Belgian Landscape Painting by Eugene Remy Maes