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Jules de Bruycker

(1870–1945, Ghent)

L’atelier. Etching. 32 x 24 cm. 1928. Le Roy 157, Goddard 36. Inscribed and signed “l’atelier 1 état ... JdBruycker” in pencil beneath the image.

Jules de Bruycker studied, with a lengthy interruption, at the Academy of Art in his native city of Ghent, where Théo Canell and Jean Delvin were among his teachers. Initially he concentrated on drawings and watercolours, but the renown he later acquired was attributable primarily to his expressive, brilliantly executed etchings which, in the view of art critics, earned him the rank of “the greatest Belgian etcher after Ensor”. From 1924 to 1935 de Bruycker was a professor at the Royal Academy of Art in Antwerp and from 1925 a member of the Académie Royale de Belgique. He maintained close ties with his native Ghent throughout his lifetime and regularly explored the architecture and life in the city in his works of art. For that reason many of his etchings, which are remarkable for their unsurpassed virtuosity, technical precision and visionary, occasionally fantastic and ironical character, feature large and small buildings in the city as well as scenes from everyday life there. Around 1928 he pro- duced several works illustrating his immediate working and residential environment, including the present print entitled L’atelier, which affords a view of the rear buildings and courtyards in the direct vicinity of his studio. According to Stephen Goddard, the in-depth study of his domestic surroundings at this time could be the result, in part, of the death of his mother in 1928.

The print is one of de Bruycker’s late works. In the 1930s he devoted himself largely to the depiction of churches and cathedrals. After 1938 he gave up etching entirely and worked exclusively as a draughtsman. This intimate image full of meditative tranquillity is remarkable for its subtle and sophisticated etching style. The delicate vegetation in the foreground is of the utmost graphic refinement. A very fine, tonal impression with wide margins. Minor traces of handling, otherwise in excellent condition. Literature: Stephen Goddard, An Eye on Flanders. The Graphic Art of Jules De Bruycker, Lawrence 1996.

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