Emile Claus: Centenary Commemoration - Illuminating the Golden Lys in Memory of His Passing

By Dirk Vanduffel - Thursday, May 16, 2024
Emile Claus: Centenary Commemoration - Illuminating the Golden Lys in Memory of His Passing

Emile Claus, born on the banks of the river Lys in Sint-Eloois-Vijve (Waregem) on September 27, 1849, holds a significant place in art history. “ In commemoration of the centenary of his passing in 2024, we saw fit to organize an exhibition near his birthplace” says Pietro Iacopucci, Alderman of culture in Waregem.

Emile Claus’ carreer in the arts began at the Academy of Waregem, where despite initial resistance from his father, he pursued drawing. His path took unexpected turns, from a stint as a baker's apprentice in Lille (France) to roles in the Belgian Railways and the flax trade, which earned the river Lys its moniker, the 'golden river.'

It was the intervention of family friend and musician, Peter Benoit, that pursued Emile towards the Antwerp Academy of Fine Arts. Following his time in Antwerp, he settled in Astene near Deinze.

In 1882, Claus completed the renowned "Cock Fight" painting, depicting prominent figures from Waregem observing a rooster duel at the Green Lantern café. Notably,amongst the attendees was Waregem notary Eduard Dufaux, whose niece later married Emile.

Emile's artistic evolution was marked by his embrace of luminism, a style emphasizing the portrayal of light, influenced by his travels and interactions with fellow artists. His exile in London also saw him delve into impressionist works.

Emile Claus, Cock Fight, Study

Claus's impact extends beyond his own region, he stands as a frontrunner of Flemish painting, an ambassador for both the art form and the Golden Lys region.

Pietro Iacopucci : “ My personal interest in Claus stems from his profound talent and the desire to elevate awareness of his legacy in our city. His artworks resonate with a timeless essence, offering glimpses into a bygone era that still echo in our contemporary lives.”

The exhibition supported by Tourism Flanders, will be a captivating experience hosted at the church of Sint-Eloois-Vijve. Using digital technology, visitors will immerse themselves in the world of Claus's "Cock Fight" painting, with characters from yesterday brought to life in various settings. It runs from June 8 to September 22, 2024, at St. Eligius Kerk in St. Eloois-Vijve

Dirk defines the overall policy of ArtDependence Magazine.

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