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The Two Springs

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Gustave Van De Woestyne
Ghent 1881 - Uccle 1947
1910
oil on canvas
73 x 63 cm
Inventory number 2044

In the spring of 1909, painter Gustave Van De Woestyne and his new bride Prudence moved from rural Sint-Martens-Latem to the town of Louvain. Like his brother Karel and fellow artists Valerius De Saedeleer and Georges Minne, he had spent many years in Sint-Martens-Latem, living and working amidst “honest farmers, out in God's beautiful nature”. But then the village became fashionable among the richer townspeople of Ghent and new villas sprung up like mushrooms, transforming its appearance forever. But even after moving to Louvain, Van De Woestyne continued to cherish the memory of Sint-Martens-Latem and to paint its peasants, barns, orchards and views of the river Lys. In 1910, he produced the somewhat pedantic Two Springs, sometimes referred to as The city slicker and the country bumpkin. Two females of entirely different walks of life are contrasted: a plain woman from the country and a sophisticated lady from the town.

A family scene

The painting is a reference to the first visit Van De Woestyne and his wife Prudence, a farmer's daughter, paid to Gustave's brother Karel and his wife in Brussels. This is how Gustave remembered it: “We had supper in utter silence; my sister-in-law looked at my wife, and my wife timidly returned her gaze. And then my sister-in-law said: ‘You should change your hair; maybe lower the chignon. I'll do it after supper.’ But my young wife went all red in the face, and then the poor thing began to cry.”

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