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Jules de Bruycker

(1870–1945, Ghent)

La Porte Saint-Denis, Paris. Etching and aquatint on Japan paper. 50.8 x 60.5 cm. 1928. Le Roy 154 II. Inscribed and signed “Porte St. Denis Paris... JdBruycker/ 25/125” 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.
De Bruycker focused in his works on historical buildings and everyday life in his native city of Ghent as well as in other European cities such as London and Paris. The print on offer here shows Port St. Denis, a towering triumphal arch from the time of Louis XIV, seen from a low vantage point. Although the imposing classical structure clearly dominates the picture, de Bruycker’s real interest is in the hustle and bustle at street level. The etching, executed in a casual and expressive manner, is remarkable for its vibrant inner energy and dramatic chiaroscuro. It dates to 1928 and thus belongs to de Bruycker’s late period. After 1938 the artist gave up etching, subsequently working exclusively as a draughtsman. A superb, contrasting impression with margins. Minimal traces of handling, otherwise in immaculate condition.

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