Wiertz, Antoine (1806-1865) by Scholes, Robert

Antoine Wiertz (1806 – 1865) He was born in Dinant, Belgium. A precocious draughtsman, he was an admirer of GĂ©ricault. He was the son of a Dinan tailor who forced him to learn music, drawing and grammar from early youth. In 1820, studied at the Antwerp Academy. He spent 1829-1832 in France, won the Prix de Rome in 1832, stayed in Italy from 1834 to 1836 at the AcadĂ©mie de France in Rome, where, under the direction of Horace Vernet, he copied the great Italian masters. He had better success in his native Belgium than he did in the Parisian Salon. As a painter he was drivien to “romantic” images of death and violence. One of his better-known paintings is La Belle Rosine, which is in the medieval “vanitas” tradition, but modernized. He also painted a guillotined head, a man in the act of killing himself with a pistol, and a tryptich of the thoughts of a decapitated head. His work is a good illustration of misogynistic romanticism heading toward decadence.

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