Van Mieghem’s realistic paintings leave a “lasting impression” to be seen at the Pontoise museum

Van Mieghem’s realistic paintings leave a “lasting impression” to be seen at the Pontoise museum
Van Mieghem’s realistic paintings leave a “lasting impression” to be seen at the Pontoise museum


Fabrice Cahen

Published on May 12, 2024 at 3:16 p.m.

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With the support of the museum foundation Eugeen Van Mieghem from Antwerp (Belgium) and the transport company Van Mieghem Logistics, the retrospective Eugeen Van Mieghem, Between Millet and Lautrec, open Saturday May 4, 2024 at Pissarro-Pontoise Museum of Art and History (Mahpp)reveals the Antwerp artist with a singular, realistic and social talent.

Erwin Joos, curator of the Eugeen Van Mieghem Museum in Antwerp and co-curator of the exhibition, with Vincent Pruchnicki, head of the Mahpp, led a presentation of 69 works, drawings and paintings, most of which have never been seen in France.

Long-lasting impression

Eugeen Van Mieghem occupies a unique place in Belgian art. Practicing at the turn of the 20th centurye century, the artist confronts a turbulent social reality, which he transcribes through poignant works, what Erwin Joos calls “the lasting impression”.

The working people, migrants, the Great War, worldliness are among his favorite themes.

“A realistic painter who depicts the tumultuous life of the port of Antwerp,” says Patrick Morcello, deputy in charge of Art.

“At that time, they were more post-impressionist or naturalist painters,” observes the elected official.

“All subjects of inspiration pass before his eyes”

It was precisely, in 1892, by discovering the works of Camille and Lucien Pissarro, Vincent Van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Georges Seurat during the exhibition of the Association for Independent Art in Antwerp, that Van Mieghem develops his own style. His career began at the time of the development of commercial activity at the port of Antwerp, where his parents ran a grocery store.

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“All the subjects of inspiration pass before his eyes,” explains Vincent Pruchnicki.

In 1901, at the Salon de la Libre Esthétique in Brussels, Eugeen presented his drawings alongside those of Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Auguste Renoir and Armand Guillaumin.

However, despite the strength of his production and a first monographic exhibition during his lifetime, he still remains unknown today outside of Belgium.

In 1902, he lost his wife Augustine, who died at the age of 24, and did not exhibit again until 1910.

Very prolific, Eugeen continued to represent the world around him until his sudden death at the age of 55 in 1930.

The Pall Mall Magazine named him “an artist of the people” in 1904. Dublin hosts the Eugeen Van Mieghem – port life exhibition at the Dublin City Gallery in 2017 and from Antwerp to New York, for 30 years, his works continue to tour the world.

Cartier-Bresson inspired

Several posthumous retrospectives were devoted to him until the 1960s.

Since 1982, the Eugeen Van Mieghem Foundation and its museum, opened in 1993, have developed an important cultural policy which has revealed its talent to the whole world.

“We hope that this exhibition will contribute to making this painter better known in the French-speaking part of Europe,” says Erwin Joos, the architect of the remarkable exhibition.

A drawing by Van Mieghem, owned for a time by the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, spouse of the Belgian photographer Martine Franck, herself the daughter of an art collector from Antwerp, was donated to the Pontoise museum.

The photographer admired the work of Van Mieghem, whom he saw as an urban reporter at the turn of the 20th century.e century.

Pissarro-Pontoise Museum of Art and History (Mahpp), 17, rue du Château. Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on most public holidays. Full price €7, reduced price €5.5, free on presentation of proof (under 18, unemployed, Icom, etc.)

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