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Gaston and His Sister

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Gustave Van De Woestyne
Ghent 1881 – Uccle 1947
1923
oil on canvas
204 x 204 cm
Inventory number 3211

Gaston and his sister are seated on a chair alongside each other in this rather imposing painting by Gustave Van De Woestyne. The life-sized pair are towering figures above the toy-like houses and tree in the background. Both are dressed in black Sunday clothes. Beside them grows a dahlia. The proportions between the children and their surroundings, combined with the sense of emptiness, gives the painting an unreal feel, an effect that is enhanced by the models' peculiar, almost caricatural expression. The girl posing as Gaston's sister was in fact Bertha, the family maid.

Flemish roots

This painting was one of the central pieces in Van De Woestyne's first solo exhibition at a gallery called ‘Le Centaure’ in 1925. He painted the picture after returning from several years in London. It was here, during the Great War, that he became acquainted with fellow artists and war exiles such as De Saedeleer, Minne and Verhaeren. Van De Woestyne was a man of the world, who liked to visit museums and exhibitions, both in London and, after the war, in Paris. But he would never renounce his roots, and, in this painting too, the theme of Flemish rural life is quite prominent.

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