Completed Continental European after 1800, South West England: Artists and Subjects 137 Can we confirm the location depicted here, and who might be the artist?

Algemeen Stemar
Topic: Artist

The banner and flag in the background indicate that this is a celebration of the introduction of universal suffrage in Belgium in 1948 - that both sexes are dancing shows that this is not celebrating the introduction in 1918 of suffrage for all men. The language on the banner is Flemish not French as is the surname of the fascia of the shop at the right. So the setting is in Flanders not Wallonia. The style of the figures in the foreground is Flemish Realist. It might be possible to identify the town or city, possibly Antwerp or Ghent. It is more likely that the artist came from one of these cities rather than Brussels. There is a signature bottom right which starts with a G and appears to ended 'inden', also Flemish not French. Was this by a Flemish artist made an Honorary Member of the RWA?
On the signature it looks like ‘ANTW’ and could well be an abbreviation of ANTWERPEN, strengthening the supposition was Flemish and not Walloon. Antwerp street directories should help to identify the business, the name of which is on the fascia.

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The artist was identified as Gerard van der Heyden (1864–1939). The title was expanded to ‘Socialist Demonstration for Universal Suffrage (Algemeen Stemrecht) on Leysstraat, Antwerp’ and the picture dated to 1892, the year in which it was exhibited at the Royal Museum, Brussels.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.

136 comments

The Collection has commented: ‘At the moment we are unable to have a close look at the painting, but we have always had difficulty in deciphering the signature, hence our tentative attribution to an artist possibly called Hayden [note Haydon on Art UK record] It has always remained a bit of a mystery. A public discussion would hopefully give us more information and help discover the artist.'

Malcolm Fowles,

Not only the name of the business "J. Van De Laer" is visible, but very probably also the building number - 4 - which brackets the name. There are appear to be pots on a shelf in the window.

Internet searches suggest that the name Van De Laer is not uncommon and today it occurs beyond Flanders, for example on a butcher's shop in a suburb of Brussels.

David Phillips 02,

I think that Antwerp is the most likely location. The banner depicts the arms of Flanders, (Or a lion rampant Sable).

Peter Nahum,

The signature is G. and then possibly v. d. Ley... and it was painted in Antwerp. I have searched and searched for the artist and am stumped. I can only suggest contacting the museum in Antwerp to solve the problem.

Peter Nahum,

There were 250,000 Belgian Refugees in the UK during the WWII. possibly one of them.

Gerardus Wilhelmus Marie (Gerard) van der Heyden (Heijden). Born on 31 March 1864 in Ravenstein, died in Sint-Oedenrode - both places in North Brabant, Netherlands - on 8 December 1939: so apparently a Dutch rather than Belgian artist, albeit from the southern Netherlands.

Mark Wilson,

The other version looks more like a derivative from this with the lack of a banner reading "Algemeen Stemre[cht]" meaning it could represent other celebrations of other events.

But clearly this is about the 1918 reforms which meant all adult men had a single vote. From 1893 men over 25 had up to three depending on wealth and education, this reduced this to a more equal situation. Women, especially working-class women, would still celebrate this as another step towards equality and there are red flags alongside the flags of Belgium and Flanders.

Some women could already vote, notably widows, and could be represented by the woman in black. Apart from 1948 being after the artist's death, the clothing in both versions is more plausible for 1918 - and certainly not 1830.

Malcolm Fowles,

The other (auctioned) version does have an banner. You can see it by clicking along the row of thumbnails below Citiwiki's main image. It begins "ALGEMEEN" but is then obscured by the flag of Flanders"

That version is dated 1892 on the painting, according to Citiwiki. If so, RWA's version is the derivative, with "Stemre[cht]" added to relate it to the 1918 event.

Another change is the widow in our picture, who was dressed in normal attire in the original. Her mourning may be a symbol of the losses in WWI.

The shop name, which is very prominent in our picture, is not visible in the original. Such clear lettering in a painting is generally not advised (nowadays?) as it is an eye magnet, so it may have something to do with the commissioning of our copy.

Martin Hopkinson,

The church could be Antwerp Cathedral and the street Groenplats - the prominent building with lights might be a large bar/restaurant

Martin Hopkinson,

The gold sign above the entrance to the building on the corner is probably identifiable - another bar?

Malcolm Fowles,

Present-day Antwerp will have changed a lot and we are still only conjecturing that it is the painting's location. Flemish historians might know where this is from the large statue (behind the red flag on the left of the painting).

Martin, where is the church that you see? And is your gold sign the small horse above the flag and probably on building no 6? (There's a prominent "8" on the balustrade just behind it and "4"s on the foremost building "J. Van De Laer").

This doesn't look like Google's images of Het Elfde Gebod which is right next to the cathedral on a dead straight building line. https://www.google.com/maps/@51.2206733,4.4017409,3a,30.9y,285.37h,87.62t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sp7RAJPScJi9GBT8xfAWgUw!2e0!6shttps://streetviewpixels-pa.googleapis.com/v1/thumbnail?panoid=p7RAJPScJi9GBT8xfAWgUw&cb_client=maps_sv.tactile.gps&w=203&h=100&yaw=278.83823&pitch=0&thumbfov=100!7i13312!8i6656

Martin Hopkinson,

The church is behind the yellow flag - there is a gap of a small street between Het Elfde Gebod and that is still on a corner site. Your eyesight is better than mine! If this dates before 1939, the war may have destroyed buildings



Martin Hopkinson,

Pre 1939 street directories in the British Library should help us

Martin Hopkinson,

There is a statue of Rubens [who else] in the centre of the square

Martin Hopkinson,

The other historic churches in Antwerp do not look like this, nor do I think that they have or had the open space at the left of this painting
Were there HQs of political parties on the square?

Alison Golding,

There's a statue of David Teniers in Teniersplaatz, Antwerp which has a resemblance to the outline of the statue in the painting from some angles, but almost all the buildings around it are new construction.

Kieran Owens,

If this is Antwerp, Alison could be correct, though the view would appear to be of the back of the Teniers statue (see attached), in which case the street in the painting is Leysstraat. A Google Maps search shows that half the street is modern (from the back of the statue), and the further half retains some of the old-style buildings. The numbering of the painting's buildings does not correspond with those there today, but this might be because of war damage.

Malcolm Fowles,

The statue does it for me. In Google Street View, take a stroll up Leysstraat behind the Teniers statue until you reach the Anthony (Antoon) Van Dyck statue at the meeting with Meir, Otto Veniusstraat and Jezusstraat. Turn around and position yourself so that you can see the building line on the right hand side of Leysstraat, including the modern "Lara Home" and the frontage beyond. Note the shallow angle between Lara Home and the rest of the street, a good match to no 4, J. Van De Laer in the painting. Local authorities tend to be very particular about retaining the building line in redevelopments.

You are standing where this picture was drawn. The view is the same as that of the Van Dyck statue. The present statue is gleaming new, but if a statue was present in 1918, that is one really clever touch.

Malcolm Fowles,

https://statues.vanderkrogt.net/object.php?webpage=CO&record=bean036 shows us that the Van Dyck statue has been well cleaned recently, as most images show weather stains.

More pertinently, the statue dates from 1856, which means that it existed before the 1892 painting. Without a pre-1892 photograph, we cannot be sure it was in situ when the painting was composed because it "has been relocated several times". Thus van der Heyden putting himself in Van Dyck's place must remain a delicious conjecture.

The street behind Van Dyck, Meir, is Antwerp's principal street, housing a former Royal Palace. It and the surrounding area would have been a natural site for public celebrations.

Kieran Owens,

Although by no means conclusive in proving that this is Antwerp, but if it is, this postcard composite of Leysstraat, looking away from the back of the Teniers statue on the Teniersplaatz, shows a similar assortment of flagpoles protruding from the first floor level of each of the buildings, as can be seen in the painting.

Kieran Owens,

The following rough translation from the 1908 book linked to below might be significant:

"Expropriation costs of the house No. 4 on Old Leysstraat. Abbreviation of the repayment to be made by L. Van de Laer and others, pursuant to a judgment of the Court of Appeal of 20 February 1903. 6 702.15"

https://bit.ly/3iOu9kc

Marcie Doran,

Here is another view of the front of the Teniers statue in 1885, from Pinterest.
“De Teniersplaats voor de verbreeding ca 1885 Bron Herman Van Goethem”
https://tinyurl.com/4eec6dem

I noticed that the banner in this photo on Alamy.com of a demonstration in Antwerp is the same shape as the one in the Art UK painting.
“German Evacuation of Occupied Territory - General election for the Council of Flanders. Flemish demonstration in the streets of Antwerp ca. 1918-1919“
https://tinyurl.com/299bc3ec

Jacinto Regalado,

I wonder if van der Heyden was an illustrator. The rendering of the children at lower right is especially reminiscent of graphic work.

Kieran Owens,

Thank you Alison for your great lead.

The action in the painting is unquestionably taking place on Old Leysstraat, in Antwerp, in its form before the whole streetscape was widened and the buildings redeveloped. Attached is a composite of extracts from the painting and an 1898 photograph of Oude Leysstraat (Old Leysstraat), both looking up towards the back of the Teniers statue. The additional attachment shows, in the red rectangle, the double-fronted Van Der Laer shop at No. 4, with its four tall first-floor windows. On the curve in the street, on the right-hand-side, the same street lamp can be seen hanging from in front of No. 8. Everything in the photograph identifies the location in the painting.



Kieran Owens,

The Court of Appeal's ruling above must relate to compensation for the demolition of No. 4 at the time of the redevelopment of the entire district, in a somewhat similar aggrandising move as driven by Haussmann in Paris between 1853 and 1870.

If the painting was done on the actual street (as opposed to it being a later fanciful recreation of it for artistic purposes) it must date from before 1903.

Malcolm Fowles,

Kieran, the first composition we have is in the 1892 painting sold on Catawiki. It could have been made either in the street or from the first left-hand building in the 1898 photo.

Today some older buildings beyond no 4 appear to survive. Some balustrades are very similar to those on no 8 in the painting. See

The RWA painting is clearly a derivative of the 1892 one rather than a recreation in situ. Its main change is the alteration of the banner to "Universal Suffrage" from "Common / Popular ..." or whatever was the 1830 uprising's slogan.

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Mark Wilson,

Malcolm's comment (23/07/2021 21:16) reminds me that I should never assume that the main image of a picture is the main image. The fact there isn't really a full image of the Belgian version on Catawiki is bit annoying. But the 1892 and signature look secure and mean that this must be the original and so predate the voting reform. So this isn't a picture of celebrations after but a carnival-like demonstration in favour of it

That reform wasn't achieved easily either. After blocking of an earlier Bill, it took the General Strike of April 1893:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgian_general_strike_of_1893

led by the Belgian Labour Party (hence the red flags) which led to deaths before the Parliament caved in and expanded the franchise tenfold to all men over 25 (and some women), though diluting it with extra votes for the middle class.

I suspect this means that the RWA picture was made fairly soon after, rather than later adapted to other political events, perhaps after the strike made things more newsworthy. I don't think it's meant to be 1830 or any other event, the differences aren't that great, 1830 is just an assumption by the Belgian vendor and independence was the main demand then.

Gerard van Heijden/van Heyden's RKD entry has him in London in 1894:

https://rkd.nl/nl/explore/artists/37013

So it may date from around then and it was brought to or painted in England. The RWA's records only state it as being "early collection". I suspect this may mean it was acquired before 1900 when some of the RWA collection was transferred to the City Gallery to help fill their newly built walls, which should led to a full listing of the RWA's holdings at the time to enable this.

The only thing that makes me wonder if there is a longer gap between the two versions is the rather different way the two are painted.

Malcolm Fowles,

Our logic needs a revisit following Kieran's suggestion that both the Catawiki and RWA paintings date from 1892. This makes sense given that the name of Van De Laer appears in the RWA version and the 1898 photo (though not in Catawiki). That shop may not have existed after 1903, given the Court of Appeal judgment.

The paintings thus pre-date the partial male suffrage enacted in 1893.

The interpretation of the banner therefore changes. It probably has nothing to do with the 1830 revolution as asserted on Catawiki. More likely it is a campaign or protest banner, interpreting the crowd not as a street celebration but a demonstration!

This is supported by the presence of the police and their apparent arrest of the woman we called the widow, who in both paintings brandishes a red cloth that echoes the flags.

In Kieran's senate document we discover that the 1893 suffrage was not universal (algemeen), rather a halfway version that still disadvantaged the working class. The painting may reflect protests in advance of this.

If both paintings date from the same time, their relationship is an issue. In my opinion the RWA version is a more considered and finished work than the Catawiki. It is also larger (190 x 156 cm versus 132 x 110 cm). I suggest the Catawiki is a preparatory sketch and the RWA is the developed work.

Your thoughts?

Kieran Owens,

Malcolm, there is little possibility that any of the buildings in the 1898 photograph, on either side of Leysstraat / Rue de Ley survived its c.1901 - 1904 redevelopment. Firstly, the buildings in the 1898 photograph are no more than three stories high, whereas those there now are all five stories or more. The retention of the line of the buildings probably was dictated by the route of the tram line.

Attached is a composite of two maps of Antwerp, one from 1896 and the other from 1904, showing the straightening and widening of the Leysstraat.

The following link leads to a website which explains the redevelopment and in particular the construction in 1901 of the Grand Hotel Métropole and is twin building on the other side of the street, both of which were to open a new approach down the Leysstraat to Meir street:

http://www.retroscoop.com/amusement.php?artikel=248

A rough translation of an extract is here:

"The Grand Hotel Métropole was once located in the particularly stately building on the corner of Leysstraat (no. 27-29) and Kipdorpvest (no. 28-30). The client for the construction of the ornate building in neo-baroque style was not a private person, but the City of Antwerp. It charged architect Frans van Dijk (1853-1939) with the design of a building, which would broadly be the mirror image of the building on the other side of Leysstraat.

A city view dominated by domes and spires the works on the right seem to have progressed better than these on the left. This earlier building, construction of which had begun in 1901, was designed by Ernest Dieltiens. The addition of a near-mirror image would create a monumental gateway to the center within the former city walls. People strolling towards Meir from the new “Central Station” and Central Station would come face to face with this "gate", which could well have been in Paris, Vienna or on Nevsky Prospect in St Petersburg."

The website shows, in particular, the construction of some of these new five-story buildings on Leysstraat.

In essence, it is quite likely that the same artist painting both of these versions of the scene, one in 1892, in the year before the male suffrage had been won, and the other at the same time or at some proximate date. As to why he should have painted two versions requires some detailed research.



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Malcolm Fowles,

Thanks for that, Kieran. The composite makes me more certain that the Catawiki is a sketch. For example:

- The foreground figures are painted much more - er - sketchily or with less compositional logic, such as the girl facing us on the left. The dog is a distraction.

- The shop name is omitted. Fine details like that take time.

- The banner does not tell us what the painting is about.

- The arrested woman is ordinary. Although to my taste the RWA version makes her look bizarre, I feel there must be a reason for it. Presumably viewers of the time would know better who she was or what she represents.

Kieran Owens,

By a Royal Decree (un arrêtté royal) of the 17th April 1878, Mr. Joseph Francois Julien Van de Laer, a "pâtissier à Anvers" (a pasty cook and/or owner of a pâtissiere in Anvers/Antwerp), who was born on the 6th September 1841 in Bergen-op-Zoom in the Netherlands, was permitted to establish his residence in Belgium, in conformity with article 13 of the Civil Code. He was the son of Antonius Dominicus van de Laer and Anna Maria Willems, whom he had married on the 30th November 1837:

http://www.wiewaswie.nl/nl/detail/74441512

http://www.wiewaswie.nl/nl/detail/74029838

Kieran Owens,

The last part of the last line above should really read:

"...who had been married on the 30th November 1837:"

Malcolm Fowles,

Martin, I think the RWA has definitive answers to both questions and more besides. Should we consider wrapping this up?

Art Detectives at its best and most enjoyable here, with several contributors to both direction and evidence. Thanks especially to Alison and Kieran, but well done everyone.

Martin Hopkinson,

Indeed it should be- a very impressive result of collaborative and swift investigation - was there an important political party office in the neignbourhood?

Kieran Owens,

Perhaps the following would be appropriate:

• Artist

Gerard van der Heyden (1864-1939)

• Title

Universal Suffrage (Algemeen Stemrecht) Demonstration on Old Leysstraat (Rue de Ley), Antwerp

• Date

c.1892

Malcolm Fowles,

I was just having a last look at the painting with a composer's eye and I think I'd like to unask my question to Martin about wrapping up!

The focal point of the composition is the arrested woman:
- the notan (darks-lights) pattern draws a dark circle around her in contrast to (a) the predominant mid-tone and (b) the well-lit adjacent shop interior
- the foreground path of light
- the main vertical of the building corner
- the line of heads of the crowd behind
- the gazes of the relatively well detailed onlookers.

For me, she begins to look like the subject of the painting. What is her story? Is that a red flag or a blood-soaked cloth she holds? Why such a mad facial expression?

An Antwerp newspaper archive of 189(1-)2 would be ideal, and someone to read it! The reader should also bear in mind the foreground boys, who may or may not have some involvement.

Perhaps this is best done in a new, separate discussion if the collection wishes.

Martin Hopkinson,

Malcolm , I am only a contributor like- others decide about winding up

Louis Musgrove,

Was it the collection that originally thought this was from 1948?

I don't think we should end this discussion yet. You have all provided a wealth of material in a remarkably short time but, as Malcolm says, questions remain.
I am intrigued by the red item the woman holds too. I live in Bristol and if the RWA staff are happy for me to join them when they have access to the painting then I would much like to see it. We can also discuss the date of acquisition and their early records.

Malcolm's suggestion and reasons (25/07/2021 20:48) that the Catawiki version is preliminary - or at least prior - are credible but neither image could be of the Belgian strike of 1893 if the Catawiki version is dated 1892 - only some previous demonstration. Am I right in thinking that 1892 is only what we have been told by the auction site? If so given van der Heyden's illegibility of signature it may have been misread even if we cannot retrieve it to check.

In supplying his details (23/07/2021 13:23) it crossed my mind to observe at the time that given where he was born, in the southern Dutch part of historical Brabant, he may well have been Roman Catholic. That does not mean he was automatically on the side of political reaction but would have borne on his perspective of current affairs.

Malcolm Fowles,

Pieter, I didn't suggest it was the April 1893 general strike. The issue of suffrage was not a sudden flare-up, it was a campaign (see Kieran's link above). The strike happened after it became apparent that a non-universal version would be imposed.

Louis Musgrove,

Sheena- is there anything in the fabric of the painting- canvas, frame ,labels, paint and it's condition that would indicate a date either of 1948-or late 19th century?

Louis, I don't work at the RWA but I live in Bristol only a mile or two away. I was hoping that the staff there might let me come along when they can access the painting. I will certainly look at it for evidence of date as you suggest; I'm quite open-minded about the date at present.

Kieran Owens,

It was not my intention to suggest that this scene represented the actual 1893 strike but that its participants were Socialists (carrying their red flags and other red material scarves/handkerchiefs), which would have been a regular prelude to the actual strike in 1893. The same cohort of protesters (in clogs and peasant and workers' costumes, of all ages and both genders) can be seen in the "Un soir de grave" (1893) painting by Eugène Laermans.

https://bit.ly/3leum35

Kieran Owens,

*@%$+£ spellchecker strikes again....."Un soir de grève (1893)"

Jacinto Regalado,

The old woman in question was probably a Madame Defarge type, or taken as such by the establishment.

Malcolm Fowles,

I've searched the archive at http://www.belgicapress.be. The only local newspaper in there for 1892 is "Handelsblad von Antwerpen". "Algemeen Stemrecht" appears in many reports. It was clearly the hot political topic of the time.

I found that the Flemish words for "demonstration" are "manifestatie" and "betooging" (Dutch now uses a single "o"). Betooging seems to be a generic word and therefore appears in numerous contexts, which means lots of irrelevant hits, but manifestatie produces 4 reports for the year in Antwerp and 16 elsewhere.

16 Feb - a demo in a snowstorm!
21 Feb - advance information on the May Day march (but there's no report in May).
10 July - a demo of unclear significance
6 Dec - a long article on a demo the previous day

In the French language papers of other cities there are reports of May Day in Antwerp along the lines of it was a pathetic affair. However, this is the Walloon press and they are clearly the opponents of universal suffrage. One of them mentions a band and red flags. There's no mention of arrests or an atrocity

My guess is that this is indeed the May Day parade.

Malcolm Fowles,

The French language newspapers of 2nd May 1892 - notably Gazette de Charleroi, Journal de Bruxelles and La Réforme - are very helpful.

* They mention a band (un corps de musique or les musiques).
* They give the route, from the Place de la Commune (now City Hall) to the theatre "El Bardo" via principal streets. El Bardo used to be at 87-93 Sint Jacobsmarkt, which is 3 minutes walk from our end of Leysstraat, up Jezusstraat (left in the photo from Kieran).
* One even gives the timing. The march began at 10 am and reached El Bardo at 11 am, ready for a socialist meeting at 11:30.

I think that the band and the proximity of Leysstraat to the route of the procession suggest that we have not only identified the place but also the date and time of the events depicted! It is at least worth a "possibly", or even a "probably", in the painting's description.

Malcolm Fowles,

Adding to Kieran's proposal:

Perhaps the following would be appropriate:

• Artist

Gerard van der Heyden (1864-1939)

• Title

Belgian Socialist Party march on Old Leysstraat (Rue de Ley), Antwerp

• Date

1892

Most likely the event depicted is the 1st May parade, hence the musicians and dancers.

Kieran Owens,

Malcolm, one problem for this specifically being the 1st May march is that the report in the Journal de Bruxelles states (roughly translated) the following:

"At noon the parade emerges from Place de la Ville-Haute; at ten past twelve it has the usual appearance of socialist parades; only, the red flags are crossed with white bars. It is a rather Pharisienne way of escaping the prohibition of the red flags granted by the chiefs here, at the request of the burgomaster."

The flag in the march in this painting is pure red.

Alison Golding,

Just speculation, but it could be a politically idealised version of events, showing the flags in the (banned) pure red - and if so it might explain why the painting ended up in the UK rather than staying in Belgium. Is there any way of finding out whether Gerard van der Heyden had any political affiliations?

And may I congratulate Kieran for his spectacular research efforts confirming the location from a sketchy and undeveloped lead?

Royal West of England Academy,

Thank you so much, all you wonderful people, for your interest, incredible research and eye-opening insights. We are hugely indebted to you. What a joy to have so much new information.
Alison Bevan, RWA Director

Malcolm Fowles,

Alison, this was a real pleasure, and no doubt for all who took part. Please give Art Detectives a nod in your gallery!

Kieran, you and I are looking at different sources. The times of day are different.
My search was "anvers et manifestation" for May 2 and this result is JB567 Journal de Bruxelles, 1892-05-2 - Ed.0 - [page] 2. Clipping attached.

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Mark Wilson,

Pieter (29/7/2021 09:49) there's actually an image of the signature and date of the Belgian version on the auction site (attached). I suppose it's possible that it was signed and dated later, especially if it was a sketch that was then commercialised. But on reflection it looks finished enough to have been intended for sale from the start.

The RWA version is painted in a more precise manner, less like van der Heyden's other deliberately slightly naive work. This version appears to be dated 1894 (the 4 at least looks clear) and if he was in England that year, then he may have produced (or brought) it as a showpiece with commercial work in mind which might explain how it ended up in an English collection. He may also have made adjustments to make things clearer such as putting the 'widow' all in black or showing the full text on the banner.

There are only 34 paintings marked "early collection" in the RWA's holdings (https://bit.ly/3ltiMBs) and while my earlier guess of 1900 is probably too early as an end-date, most of these look like they were acquired before 1930 at the latest. I suppose a WWI refugee might be another route. But the collection will have a better idea of the meaning of their labels, even if details may be lost.

A May Day parade seems the most likely reason for the combination of celebration and political protest shown and would explain there being spectators on the side - less likely with a demonstration. I don't think the red flag ban that Kieran discovered undermines that. The large red flag in the 'original' is obscured by a flambeau and the ban might explain the behaviour of two of the main characters. The old lady in black has clearly attached some piece of red clothing to a stick and is using it to wind up the police officers, to the amusement of bystanders. While the man in the centre looks like he has done similarly with a red handkerchief and is dancing a jig in defiance.

Kieran Owens,

Malcolm, you are absolutely correct. I was quoting the description in the same paper from a completely different protest, taking place in Charleroi (in the column to the left of the Anvers piece).

Alison, without your posting on 24/07/2021 20:54 I could never have made the connections. This is the beauty of Art Detective, in all of its collaborative glory.

Mark, can you explain where you see the date 1894?

Kieran Owens,

Relating to the artist under discussion, the following appeared in the newspaper Handelsblad (Het) of the 6th August 1912:

"Honorable distinction - M. Gerard van der Heyden, painter in Breda and former student of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, has been awarded the silver medal for the year 1912, a medal that is struck every year of the Pope's reign and is given only to cardinals and highly deserving persons.

Congratulations!"

Mark Wilson,

There's a (not very clear) date under the signature in the bottom RH corner. The final digit seems to be a 4, so it's the best guess

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Osmund Bullock,

It's not a date, Mark: as mentioned in the intro and elsewhere, it seems to be the letters 'ANTW-' (though there is possibly something else to the right of it, perhaps cut off in the image). I think the attached may be a bit clearer than your version.

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Malcolm Fowles,

Now we know why Gerard van der Heyden was in Antwerp, aged 27-8. I can imagine a Fine Art tutor setting an outdoor parade as a challenging assignment.

The Papal "Benemerenti" medal (see Wikipedia) goes to persons having given service to the Catholic church. 1912 is rather early for a lay, non-military recipient. Anyway, it tells us Gerard's likely perspective: he would not have loved the Belgian socialists. Perhaps this explains his extreme treatment of the woman in black, who was an ordinary matron in the sketch, and also which side she was on.

Not resolving her significance is my one regret here. As I said before, in compositional terms she is the focal point of the painting. I don't expect to resolve this ever. I suspect that she is merely some small incident that struck the artist while he was making street sketches. Perhaps a historian of late 1800s Belgium might be given this discussion and set us straight.

Thanks, Mark,(29/7/2021 09:49) for confirming that 1892 is the date is on the auctioned version: the medal information also backs up my guess based on place of birth that v.d.Heyden was of Catholic background.

Can this one now wind up?

Kieran Owens,

It might be worth noting that the boy at the font of the painting is holding a Belgian flag, though he is not displaying it. Is that also the flag that is on the pole outside that Van de Laer shop? If so, its bars seem to be running in the wrong direction. And do the burning torches in the crowd of demonstrators suggest a parade at either dawn or dusk? These torches might be mentioned in any newspaper report.

Kieran Owens,

If winding up, perhaps the following:

• Artist

Gerard van der Heyden (1864-1939)

• Title

Socialist Demonstration for Universal Suffrage on Leysstraat, Antwerp

• Date

c.1892

Kieran Owens,

Some other subtitles can be seen by examining the group of boys at the front of the painting, where the focus of the artist's intention might actually be found. In the Catawiki version, the boy on the left is wearing a red scarf, suggesting a socialist affiliation. He appears to be tugging the arm of the boy beside him, as if pulling him away from the boy with the flag. In both paintings, the boy at the front of the action is holding a Belgian flag, although in the RWA version the black bar is beside the pole, whereas in the Catawiki version the flag is reversed and it is the red bar that is beside it. This interesting distinction (as opposed to mistake) might be explained by this posting on the flag's peculiar history:

https://bit.ly/3A9z7z3

Either way, the boy on the left seems to be rather aggressively engaging with the other two, perhaps attempting to take the flag, or symbolically pulling the middle boy over to his cause. This could be part of the artist's subtle narrative, suggesting a threat to the Belgian state from a growing socialist philosophy.

Or maybe I am reading to much into this....

Louis Musgrove,

I am obviously the only person who is suspicious of these two paintings.Two conveniently illegible signatures except for the G and H,one bottom left-one bottom right,and not like Van der Heyden's verified signature on other works-just similar enough.And the style is totally different from his other works refered to here and elsewhere. And the boy on the left,middle bottom of the canvas -is very Alfred Neuman'ish. Hmn! Perhaps a bit of caution ???

Malcolm Fowles,

Louis, consider the context in which these are student works. This is not the mature artist. It raises doubts on your doubts:
We are certain of the place and know that Van der Heyden was a student there at around this time. Academic records could confirm this
Attributes (such as signature) and style are early.
We have already seen that his styles vary across other works, independently of this.
The subject and result may be determined by academic motives only.
The differences between final sketch and work may be due to academic commentary.

Malcolm Fowles,

More propositions for Louis ...
The collection, with direct access to the work rather than a photograph and no knowledge of identity, had already tentatively interpreted the signature as "Hayden". Under good conditions it must be conveniently legible.
The presence of ANTW below the signature is not a fortuitous gift to us from the artist, an indication of location as we previously assumed. This would be unheard of. Rather, it is shorthand for the student's alma mater, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp - probably demanded on works submitted for assessment, much like the preface of a thesis.
The foreground boys' faces are character studies, or "tronies" in Dutch. If you are familiar with Rubens you'll know he painted a lot of them and they are distinctively different from real portraits, often in the way that you point out. The student is showing his teachers what he has been taught.

Still have doubts? Please provide an alternative attribution that accounts for all the accumulated evidence.

Kieran Owens,

Louis, would you be so kind as to post an example or examples of the artists's verified signature on other works?

Osmund Bullock,

Louis, I can't see any logical reason why anyone would want to fake or add the (convincing or not) signature of a largely unknown and low-value artist to two different but closely related paintings - it makes no sense to me.

I am also not convinced by Malcolm's scenario about what 'ANTW-' signifies, though it's not impossible. I am baffled by the assertion that writing a location below a signature is "unheard of" - perhaps you mean an abbreviated location, Malcolm (though that's not true either)...or merely that ANTW- is an unusual way to shorten Antwerp? Why is it any odder than abbreviating Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen in the same way? And perhaps I've missed something in the discussion, but why are you so sure that Gerard van der Heyden was at the Academy in 1892, and that this must be a student work? 28 (or nearly) is on the old side, I'd have thought, though of course perfectly plausible. But all we *know*, as far as I can see, is that he was there at some point before he received his silver Papal medal in 1912, very likely before 1901 when he was in Boxtel and received a bronze medal for a portrait (RKD), and probably before 1894 when he was in London (also RKD). Surely it is equally likely that having trained at Antwerp he stayed on to live and work in the city for a few years, paying London a visit within that time-frame, then moved to Boxtel for a while before settling in/near Breda (by 1904) for the next twenty-five (RKD again)?

Osmund Bullock,

Ha! Granted its presence in an English collection, and the artist's presence here in 1894, we should perhaps have looked at UK sources before now. The painting - which is far bigger than I'd realized, well over six feet high - was exhibited by the great showman and theatrical impresario Oswald Stoll at Cardiff (his wife's home town) in the first few months of 1897, and in rather surprising surroundings: see attached collection of 'advertorial' pieces from local papers. I imagine Stoll felt that the socialist turmoil on the Continent was big enough (and for many, worrying enough) news to make it something worth displaying...but it is still surprising.

I suppose it could at a pinch have been the other (Catawiki) version, but it seems overwhelmingly likely, given its whereabouts today, that it's our one. The size of ours is in its favour, too - the Catawiki version is significantly smaller (52" high), and arguably not big enough to make an impression in such a large space.

Osmund Bullock,

Oh, and I now see it was sold at Christie's just two years earlier, in Jan 1895 - presumably acquired by Stoll or a dealer who sold it on to him. The vendor is not named, and no size is given, but it says it was exhibited at the Royal Museum, Brussels in 1892. We also probably now have an original title. See attached and https://bit.ly/3lso6F4.

I wonder if the artist himself put it into the auction, having brought it with him as a showpiece but failed to find a buyer. Both seller and buyer should be recorded in Christie's archive: I will email them later today. And if our painting bears a Christie's stencil number on the back, which is very possible, that would prove they are one and the same.

1 attachment
Malcolm Fowles,

Well done Oswald; I wondered when the 7th Cavalry would arrive!

Given the evidence from the Belgian newspapers, I wonder whether "Socialists in Antwerp, agitating for a General Election" might be an English replacement rather than the original. "Algemeen Stemre..." and the significance of the music and dance would go over most heads. Your conversation with Christie's may rule this in or out.

The issue of when Gerard studied at the Academy may be resolved by writing to them. They may be interested / amused / bemused by our deliberations.

My intuition, which is often wrong, tells me that this monumental painting was Gerard's intended masterpiece, in the original sense of the work that demonstrates completion of apprenticeship. It needs that kind of motivation for a large sketch and even larger final work with amendments.

Note the background statue of David Teniers the Younger, which first put our investigations on the right track. Teniers founded the Antwerp Academy. Very clever. I bet they loved that bit.

Malcolm Fowles,

I have emailed the Head of Research at the Royal Academy in Antwerp, asking for the dates of Gerard's time there and giving her a brief overview of what we have found. She may post here, but I expect she is a very busy lady.

Jacinto Regalado,

The unusually large size strikes me as quite odd for an artist of no special standing and, frankly, more of an illustrator than a painter, certainly in this picture. Also, this is hardly a commercial subject, more of a journalistic one. The size alone would make the picture extremely hard to sell, unless it was deliberately intended for a large public space.

Kieran Owens,

Well done, Osmund, and thank you for confirming my suggestion at 29/07/2021 02:23. Perhaps the further-refined title could be thus:

Socialist Demonstration for Universal Suffrage (Algemeen Stemrecht) on Old Leysstraat (Rue de Ley), Antwerp

• Date

1892

Malcolm Fowles,

The Cambridge Dutch-English dictionary confirms:

* algemeen ... general, broad
* stem ... voice, vote
* stemrecht ... suffrage

A word for word translation of what we see in the painting thus produces "general" and "vote" along with scratching of heads about the "RE/RF" that follows it. Hence General Election if the translator is English and has never heard the full phrase in context. We are fully justified in altering the title used at the time.

BTW the Head of Research at Antwerp is out of the office until 23rd August.

Malcolm Fowles,

Jacinto's points about standing, size, subject and quality are all more reasons to think this may be a student's "master piece" in the old sense. In that context normal considerations and motivations do not apply. The main aim is to show what you can do within whatever brief is given.

The work may be a resubmission after criticisms of a smaller and more flawed original, which we have thought of as a sketch: "fix these and be more ambitious".

Osmund, I'm sorry about misnaming you above. My reason for thinking that this is a student piece was precisely because I felt the same unease that Jacinto expressed so succinctly. It doesn't make sense.

That said, there are clever touches here. I don't think that the statue of Teniers is an accident; the location was probably very carefully chosen. If we'd been there at the time, we might see more. For example the girl and the caricatured gent on the left, some onlookers, and the arrested woman might all have been recognisable.

Louis Musgrove,

Here is signature as asked for -already somewhere here in the discussion. I must say my little comment just before this discussion was to be closed seems to have produced lots more information. :-)

Kieran Owens,

Louis, can you please re-attach the image, which seems not to have uploaded successfully?

Kieran Owens,

A full General Election in Belgium took place on the 14th June 1892, so it is unlikely that the protest/demonstration was happening to call for an already-planned event:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1892_Belgian_general_election

Also, the correct Dutch translation for "General Election" is "Algemene verkiezing" and the accepted meaning of the phrase "Algemeen Stemrecht" is "Universal Suffrage". Demanding an election is completely different to demanding that universal suffrage be adopted in that election.

See the following for some contextualised usages:

https://context.reverso.net/translation/dutch-english/algemeen+stemrecht

Malcolm Fowles,

Kieran, I was arguing (obviously clumsily) against "general election", not for it. I was trying to show how a poor translator could end up with the title in the Christie's catalogue. We should in no way perpetuate it just because it managed to get into the provenance.

Kieran Owens,

The owner of the painting, as sold at Christies in 1895, was Frederick Sillem, Esq., a stockbroker. The son of Herman (a merchant) and Wilhelmina Louisa Catherine Harriet Sillem, he was born in Battersea Rise, in Wandsworth, on the 19th January 1834. On the 5th June 1862 he was married at the St. Marylebone parish church to Arnoldina Mary Harriet Saportas, the daughter of Arnold David Saportas. He died, aged 60, at 57, Wetherby Mansions, Earl's Court, London (and late of The Green, Esher), on the 27th October 1894. His estate was valued at £2,308/12/4.

On the 5th January, 1820, at Cassel, his wife's home place, Herman Sillem, Esq., of Mark Lane (London), married Wilhelmina, fourth daughter of Professor Waitz, Physician to his Highness the Elector of Hess Cassel.

In the London Evening Standard, of Friday 9th November 1849, the following appeared:

"On the 8th inst., in his 62nd year, Herman Sillem, Esq., of Clapham Common, Surrey, and Crosby Square, City." (2, Crosby-square, Bishopsgate-street, London).

In 1857, with liabilities calculated at £300,000, the commercial trading house of Hermann Sillem & Son, was suspended.

Jacinto Regalado,

Why would a London stockbroker own a picture with a socialist subject by a little-known Dutch artist?

Kieran Owens,

Malcolm, please excuse me for misinterpreting your post.

Kieran Owens,

The same question could be asked about any other of the paintings and drawings owned by him as sold by Christies:

https://archive.org/details/dramoder00chri/page/8/mode/2up

e.g. "The Flower Market, Bruxelles", "Views in a Dutch Town" or any of the works by the other Dutch artists in his collection, such as Koekkoek, Heemskerk, Wouverman or the Belgian painter Verwee.

Given that his father had been doing business all over Europe, an appreciation for art could easily have developed within the family, with these works being collected over time.

Equally, the same question could be asked about Charles Saatchi and why, as a capitalist media mogul, he would have collected the works of left-wing artists such as Marcus Harvey or any of the other radical YBA group. Isn't collecting art about satisfying personal taste and interest?


Jacinto Regalado,

Collecting art can be about many things, Kieran, including projecting a certain image and securing a certain position. However, this is not the right setting for such a discussion, so I will leave it at that.

Osmund Bullock,

Oh, for gawd's sake...Frederick Sillem was *not* the vendor/owner of the painting! Read the previous page of the catalogue carefully - that's precisely why I attached it - and note too my statement, "the vendor is not named". Sillem's consignment was in fact only five of the 144 lots in the sale (see page 9 of the catalogue). If van der Heyden's was of them, why on earth did you think I would suggest that the artist himself might have put it into the auction, "having brought it with him as a showpiece but failed to find a buyer"? Did you think I'd completely lost my marbles?!

I have just written to Christie's Archives, and will doubtless get a reply next week. A little patience, chaps.

Jacinto Regalado,

Thank you for the clarification, Osmund. It appears my suspicion was not unreasonable. I expect only someone like Stoll, due to his particular and rather atypical requirements, would have readily bought such a picture.

Kieran Owens,

Not your marbles, Osmund, but certainly your temper. Not for the first time I stand embarrassingly admonished. Patience will be applied, but maybe respectful toleration should be, too, however difficult that might be, especially when a stupidly careless mistake is made.

If this was shown at the 'Royal Museum, Brussels' in 1892 there mey be a contemporary press comment: the 7-guinea price at Christie's three years later looks like the fate of many a large picture not suited by subject or size to general domestic use, even in an age of larger houses. That it got to England at all suggests 'evenements' in Belgium were at the time bigger news here than now remembered,even if whoever brought it over miscalculated the commercial appeal.

Kieran Owens,

The following appeared in the newspaper Het Handelsblad van Antwerpen, on the 17th April 1892:

"The Exhibition of Antwerp and Brussels artists, which we already talked about earlier, will be opened on April 30th, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, in the rooms of the modern Museum, Museumplaats, in Brussels. Given its scope, this exhibition of works, which have not yet been shown in Brussels, will be very remarkable. The exhibition, arranged by 'If I Can', will contain about two hundred paintings by well-known artists, who all try to be represented there in a remarkable way.

Here are the names of the participants (a long list, including):

.......G. Van der Heyden.....

During the exhibition, several talks on art will be given by Belgian speakers, and several concerts consisting of works by our best composers have been announced. One speaks of a performance of 'The Rhine' by Peter Benolt. Considering the great importance of this performance, which our Antwerp master will personally lead, this work will be presented in the Muntschouwburg (the Royal Opera House) in Brussels with the help of the orchestra and choirs of the Conservatory. The catalogue of the exhibition will contain a foreword by Camille Lemonnier."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camille_Lemonnier

If there is an extant copy of the catalogue for this exhibition it would be worth consulting for any reference to Van der Heyden's contribution, which might be this discussion's painting.

Kieran Owens,

"Als Ik Kan" is a Dutch phrase roughly meaning "As Best I Can".

Kieran Owens,

The "Als Ik Kan" exhibition ran from the 30th April to the 6th June 1892. The catalogue does exist. If there are any Art Detectives in The Hague who could visit the RKD library it is there.

https://rkd.nl/en/explore/library/2353

Kieran Owens,

A translation of the "Als Ik Kan" Dutch wikipedia page states:

""Als ik kan" was an association of visual artists in the Belgian city of Antwerp, active from 1883 to 1952. The association was founded on October 25, 1883 under the name Union Artistique des Jeunes. Soon the motto Als ik Kan would also become the name by which the association became known. The aim of the founders was mainly to create exhibition opportunities for the members, mostly young Antwerp artists, who had not yet been included in the local official art circuit. Real avant-garde artists could never be found at Als ik Kan, with the exception of Henry Van de Velde, who was only a member for a very short time and ignored this as much as possible afterwards.

Especially in the early period, numerous exhibitions were set up. These took place not only in Antwerp, but also in the Netherlands and Germany. The 25th exhibition was in 1891 and took place in the Oud Museum in the Venusstraat. The exhibitions for this took place in Zaal Verlat.

Later exhibitions took place in, among others, Zaal Buyle (De Salle Buyle), the Salle Forst, the Zaal Breckpot and the Stadsfeestzaal. In 1905 the 50th group exhibition took place.

After that, the number of exhibitions dropped. The 79th exhibition in 1952 was also the last. At that time, the collective still had nine members and was dissolved.

Members

The founders (on 25 October 1883) were: F. Adriaeenssens, Charles Boland, Léon Brunin, Edward Chappel, Prosper De Wit, F. Hanno, Jan-Willem Rosier, Henry Rul, Henry Van de Velde.

Within the year, the following artists also became members: Charles Mertens, A. Sils, Paul Gorge, H. Timmermans, L. Boschmans, Castel Ebert, Henry Luyten, J. Van Snick, W. Albracht, J. Bos, A. Halberstadt, Laura Ringelé, Hermina Laukota, Laure Blood, L. Delehaye, A. Delgoffe and Alfons Van Beurden.

More artists joined between 1885 and 1891: Rosa Leigh, F. Brandt, P. Rink, Henri De Smeth, Evert Pieters, Piet Van Engelen, Jef Van de Roye, Aloïs Boudry, Ch. Berckmans, F. Proost, Romain Steppe, Eugène Joors, J. De Pooter, J. Van Leemputten, P. Wild, J. Du Jardin, E. Verbrugge, Louis Van Engelen, Lambert Baggen (said Albert Baggen), Henry Kokken, Evert Larock, C. Nys, R. Atkinson, Richard Baseleer, B. Koldewey, A. Pierre, F. Van Caillie, G. Van der Heyden, Victor Hageman and Oscar Halle.

With the exception of Van de Velde, these were all very traditionally working artists. As a result, Als ik Kan always retained a local character. The arrival of the Kunst van Heden group in Antwerp would in time offer an alternative to this. The last decades were a survival that stretched too long: an existence kept afloat by a few artists who could not say goodbye to the past.

The members at the time of the last exhibition in 1952 were the painters Ernest Albert, Jan De Graaf, Emiel Gastemans, Felix Gogo, John Michaux, Albert Saverys, Alphonse Van Beurden and sculptors Arthur Dupon and Ernest Wijnants. The following painters also exhibited even though they were not members: Robert Buyle, Leo Bervoets, Jules De Bruycker and Alex Wouters. The chairman was Léopold (Pol) Verswijver.

Trivia

In 1886 Henry Luyten painted a group portrait of the members (A meeting at "Als ik Kan" in 1885). "If I can" was the motto of the medieval Flemish painter Jan van Eyck. He signed his work with this or incorporated it into the frame."

Kieran Owens,

In his "Herinneringen Aan Eenige Schilders te Antwerpen" (Memories of Some Painters in Antwerp") (1934), the writer Emmanuel de Bom (1868 - 1953) mentions van der Heyden:

"There they sat, some every evening, others only on Saturdays, in the yellow glow of the gaslight, snuggled together, the companions among whom I immediately distinguish: Richard Baseleer, Fik Hageman, Francis Nijs, Louis de Pooter, Arthur Briët, Antoon van Welie, Karel Theunissen, Gerard van der Heyden, for a while also Frans and Herman Deutmann, and that strangely problematic figure of the Arch-Brooder Ferdinand Muller."

and

"Gerard van der Heyden, the Noordbrabander (North Brabanter), was the nice, feisty, grumpy Catholic Dutch boy, who fancifully renamed a Schiedam* an "eau-fortje", who could make deliciously funny cartoons, after the two graceful daughters of the house, always surrounded by all-adoring glances."

https://bit.ly/3xpS6DO

and see the the attached.

*Schiedam is a Dutch city but the word's usage in the article might be one relating to Schiedam gin, and to "eau-fortje" as a type of pure distilled poitín or other strong high-alcohol-content drink. - https://bit.ly/3An5kTC

Kieran Owens,

The Leidsche Courant, of the 9th May 1912 carried the following:

"Church news - Cardinal van Rossum*

A correspondent writes from Rome, 6 Mai to the "MSbd"

This morning the painter Gérard van der Heyden was received in attendance by His Eminence Cardinal van Rossum. Mr van der Heyden will paint a portrait of His Eminence and will start with it on Tuesday."

*Willem Marinus van Rossum, C.Ss.R. (3 September 1854 – 30 August 1932)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willem_Marinus_van_Rossum

One commentary on the Cardinal states:

"It is clear that the first Dutch cardinal after the Reformation was immortalized by many Catholic artists. Others not mentioned here are Gerard van der Heyden, Bernard van Vlijmen, Alb. Verschuuren, Leo Rulkens and the torso that is still in the Begijnhof in Amsterdam. The reasons why they were made/painted are quite different, but they clearly contributed to the formation of Van Rossum into an icon of the Catholicism of the time."

https://bit.ly/3xqd2e1

The Nieuwe Schiedamsche Courant, of the 25th May 1912, ran a long piece on the portrait, concluding:

"It is my understanding that Mr. van der Heyden intends to exhibit the portrait after its completion in one of the great museums of our homeland. There it will undoubtedly make a splendid figure, both for its high art value and for the high rank of the venerable subject."

It might be for this portrait that van der Hayden was awarded the The Papal "Benemerenti" medal in August of that same year of 1912.

Kieran Owens,

Reference online can be found to the following:

"Portrait of Mr. P. F. van Cooth. Oil on canvas, 59 × 49 cm, signed l.r.: Gerard van der Heyden.

Chest to the left, facing. Dressed in black jacket with decoration in the left lapel, white shirt with stand-up collar and bow tie. In the upper left corner the van Cooth family crest, including the following inscription: Mr P. F. van Cooth / † June 8, 1901 in Hertogenbosch ......The portrait was donated to the municipality."

Osmund Bullock,

It seems more than a little patience may be required...well, we're used to that on AD. An auto-reply to my email reads, "The Christie's Archives department is closed due to the pandemic and I am working from home 99% of the time. I am unable to work on your enquiry at this time." She/it does ask us to "contact the department later in the year when conditions may have changed" - but unfortunately there's nothing to say if that's a message written last week, last month, last spring or even last year. Perhaps someone could give their switchboard a call next week to clarify.

Anyway, having come to this one late, I think I'll bow out early. As Kieran has found, it's already so long, dense and wordy - currently an exhausting 10,000 words, and still growing! - that keeping up with all the minor details of evidence hiding amidst the mass of information is all but impossible.

Jacinto Regalado,

I think this picture has gotten considerably more than its due, and the questions that were to be addressed have clearly been answered.

Kieran Owens,

I agree. The biographical details of Heyden's life, meanwhile, can be gathered together for inclusion in the forthcoming Art UK artists' database.

If closing, I would propose the following:

• Artist

Gerard van der Heyden (1864-1939)

• Title

Socialist Demonstration for Universal Suffrage (Algemeen Stemrecht) on Leysstraat, Antwerp (Rue de Ley, Anvers)

• Date

1892

There's a Catawiki lot entry for a painting of a 'Girl with a violin' (1891) by van der Heyden which says: 'Gerardus Wilhelmus Marie (Gerard) van der Heijden ( Ravenstein 1864 -Sint-Oedenrode 1939).
The artist is mentioned in the Pieter Scheen lexicon. He lived and worked in London and subsequently in Brabant.
He was a teacher of -inter alia- Lucas Roelfsema and Jan Theuns.'

This is Pieter A Scheen, 'Lexicon Nederlandse Beeldende Kunstenaars, 1750-1950' (Gravenhage Kunsthandel Scheen, 1969)

If there's anyone out there with access to that dictionary and able to post a translation of what it says that would be useful for biographical detail, though we have his exact dates already (31.3.1864 -8.12.1939).

Marcie Doran,

Additional biographical information is available on openarch.nl, the search engine for genealogical data of Dutch and Belgian archives.

His birth record is here: https://tinyurl.com/henx9p92
Note that one of his names is Maria not Marie.

Gerardus Wilhelmus Maria van der Heijden, born on March 31, 1864
Father: Petrus Franciscus Johannes van der Heijden
Mother: Albertina Joanna Maria Fock
There is a scan to the original document at the bottom of that page.

If you click on his name at that link, other records associated with this artist are shown.

The entry for his death matches the one cited above. https://tinyurl.com/rpjtrayd
Note that it, too, has additional information in the scan of the original death certificate at the bottom of that page.

Another record shows that he married Theodora Adolphina Weelen on July 11, 1895 in Sint-Oedenrode (Netherlands). https://tinyurl.com/fd5bexpu

Kieran Owens,

Those are excellent finds, Marcie. Well done.

Malcolm Fowles,

The Antwerp Royal Academy's librarian got back to me with this:

"The Modern Archive of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp - which includes all documentation relating to students and teachers - has been placed in the custody of our colleagues at the Antwerp City Archives in June 2021, to ensure the long-term preservation of these unique historical pieces.

During the first months the documents will probably not be available for consultation, but after that you can contact them with all your questions: https://felixarchief.antwerpen.be/ "

I tried the link and my first searches drew a blank.

Pieter's reference to the Lexicon seems more likely to tell us about van der Heyden's years of study and perhaps teachers. According to Worldcat there are copies at the V&A National Art Library, the British Library, Oxford, Cambridge and Leicester Universities, and the London Library. Do we have no BL card holders?

To recap, the unanswered question is when was he a student at the Antwerp Academy. If in 1892 we have a rationale for this work.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this long and interesting discussion which has provided so much new information on the artist and subject, right down to remarkable details such as the name of the owner of the patisserie whose shop front is so prominent in the painting. The discovery of the Christie's sale catalogue entry was a brilliant addition and further links about the artist also excellent finds. The question is by now thoroughly answered, so it’s time to hand over to Sheena Stoddard to recommend the updates.

Osmund Bullock,

Don't close this quite yet, as I've received some interesting and relevant information from the ever-helpful Lynda McLeod at Christie's Archive. She is currently working almost entirely from home, but managed to look up the 1895 sale in their records on her last visit. There's not a huge amount to relate, so I should be able to pull it (and the research it triggered) together and post later today.

Malcolm Fowles,

Some feedback from the librarian at Antwerp Fine Art Academy, Ine Boogmans. She has been fascinated by our investigations and took it on herself to look up Gerard van der Heijden in Scheen's Lexicon and two other reference works, Benezit and Piron. Grateful thanks to her.

The only entry appears in Scheen, vol 1 p477. Photo attached. Ine's translation is:
Heijden, G.W.M. ("Gerard") van der;* born in Ravenstein 31st March, 1864, died St. Oedenrode 8th December 1939. Lived and worked in London until 1894, Boxtel until 1901, Teteringen until 1904, Breda until 1928, Roosendaal and Nispen until 1929, Cuyk until 1932, Neerpelt (Belgium) until 1937, then moved to St. Oedenrode. Painted portraits and figure pieces. Won the bronze museum medal in 1901 for the portrait of a general.
Exhibition Arnhem 1901: Living Toys.

She says that "the struggle for general votes was very intense around 1892-1893, with demonstrations from the Werkliedenpartij."

She also says that the statue of Teniers used to stand outside the Academy, which he founded, but she doesn't know when it was relocated. We are lucky that Kieran's photo of old Leysstraat clearly shows the statue and van de Laer's shop, or else we'd have a rethink on our hands.

I am writing to thank Ine. Perhaps she might help when the Academy records come back online at the city archive. I realise that we are impatient to close this discussion, so if anything significant comes up I would raise another discussion simply so that the collection (and any of us still interested) gets the information.

1 attachment
Kieran Owens,

In Augustin Thys's "Historique des rues et places publiques de la ville d'Anvers" (1873), he states the following:

"On the 18th August 1867, the city of Anvers (Antwerp) inaugurated the bronze statue, which has been erected in memory of David Teniers, in the Place that bears his name; this statue, the work of Joseph Ducaju, represents the artist holding in his hand the Royal Edict of the 6th July 1663, which, by virtue of him, founded the Fine Art Academy in Anvers (Antwerp)..."

The statue of Teniers was signed by Ducaju and dated 1866. It was definitely in this place (which is still its current location) in 1877, as it is described in Thomas Cook's guide of that year to Holland, Belgium and the Rhine. The entry, on page 62, states that "On the Place Teniers (which is the site of the old town gate, known as the Porte de la Poterne) is a bronze statue of David Teniers by Ducjan (1867).

It could be that the librarian is mixing this statue up with the statue illustrated in the linked image, on page 245 of the Illustrated London News of the 3rd September 1864, which shows the inauguration on the Grande Place / Grote Markt (Great Market Square), in front of Antwerp's City Hall, of a statue, by Jan van Arendonck (1822 - 1881), of the Virgin of Antwerp, representing the city, crowning a bust of Teniers.

https://bit.ly/3kl5Viq

That statue is no longer there and was replaced by the Brabo fountain in 1887:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brabo_Fountain


Osmund Bullock,

Right, the information from Christie’s Archives, delayed in part because Lynda McLeod sent me still more after her first email!

The sale details are confirmed as already given (05/08/2021 06:50). The buyer at 7 guineas was noted as 'Hill', but I don't think there's any more information about his identity. I've failed to find a significant dealer of that name active at the end of the C19th, nor can I see anyone suitable associated with Oswald Stoll. However the consignment details are of interest. The painting arrived in a packing case sent from Holborn Viaduct Station on 13 Dec 1894, the consignor being “Jos Van der Heyden” of 50 Achilles Rd, W Hampstead, NW. It was put into the auction of 12th Jan, and marked ‘To Go’ (i.e. without reserve). If the Collection are able to access the back and see if there’s a stencilled stock no. there, the number to look out for is ‘782K’ – its presence would be the final confirmation that it is the same painting. The books do not apparently record how the information about its title and exhibition at Brussels were transmitted to the auctioneers; however, since the consignor, as I’ll shortly explain, almost certainly spoke English, I very much doubt that it was given to them in Dutch.

The same consignor sent another picture to Christie’s on 28th Jan 1895, which went into a sale on 9th April. This work, ‘A School Girl’, was evidently also by Gerard van der Heyden (though the catalogue gives no initial); it must have had a reserve on it this time, as it was bought in (i.e. unsold) at 4½ guineas. See attached. There is a note in the day-book whose meaning is not wholly clear, but which suggests that a conversation took place about it with one of the porters, and that the gentleman said he would call again – again I doubt that such discussions would have taken place in Dutch.

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Osmund Bullock,

‘Jos Van der Heyden’ is, beyond any reasonable doubt, Gerard’s younger brother Joseph Dorotheus Maria v d H (1868-1927). Born like Gerard at Ravenstein (or Ravesteijn) in Sep 1868, he lived intermittently in, and eventually settled in England. In Sep 1894 he married at Hampstead a London-born English girl, Rebecca Morrey (or Moray), with whom he already had two children born at Rotterdam in Dec ’91 & Jan ’94. Whether they had met in England or the Netherlands is unclear, but there is evidence he may have been in London in Aug 1893. He and his family returned to R’dam in May 1895, but moved back to London in July ’97. And there they stayed, appearing in the 1901 Census at Hendon, and eventually settling in Northants by 1915. He and his son Peter were naturalised British subjects in 1918, and he died at Rushden in July 1927.

My guess is that Gerard moved to London with his brother Joseph & family in 1893, and on the back of the painting’s success at the Brussels exhibition in 1892 brought it with him to try and crack the British market – he might well have submitted it to the RA and elsewhere. Having failed to generate any interest he returned home late in 1894, leaving his brother to dispose of it as best he could. The instruction to sell it without reserve suggests it had by then become something of a nuisance.

Thank you very much Osmund for obtaining all this detailed information from Christie’s Archives and for analysing it. I think your final sentence re the artist’s younger brother selling such a large work without a reserve is surely correct. The RWA are closed at the moment for a major refurbishment of their handsome building and reopen next year. I hope that at some time in the future they will be able to look at the back of the canvas and see if the stencilled number is there. Perhaps they will let me join them as I am in Bristol. Thank you also to Malcolm for contacting the Antwerp Fine Art Academy and inspiring the librarian to help.

This long and rewarding discussion has produced a vast amount of in-depth information on the artist, the political events of the time, and the subject and provenance of the painting. Thank you to all the many helpful contributors for your outstanding research. The artist’s details and an updated title for the painting are:
Gerard van der Heyden (1864–1939)
‘Socialist Demonstration for Universal Suffrage (Algemeen Stemrecht) on Leysstraat, Antwerp’. 1892.

I've searched the discussion for any mention of this, but may have missed it, so my apologies is it's been mentioned already. Gerard van der Heyden, 'The Cathedral, Breda, The Netherlands' (Heritage Doncaster), signed lower left (detail attached). I came across it when I went to update the record by searching the database for Heyden/Haydon.

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