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Paul Gustave Van Hecke and His Wife Norine De Schrijver

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Frits Van den Berghe
Ghent 1883 – Ghent 1939
(1923)
oil on canvas
161 x 121 cm
Inventory number 3268

Like Gustave and Leon De Smet and Constant Permeke, Frits Van den Berghe belonged to the so-called “second group of Latem”, a collective of artists that laid the foundations of Flemish Expressionism. Van den Berghe found inner peace and harmony in the valley of the river Lys around the village of Sint-Martens-Latem. In 1922, he and Gustave De Smet moved to Bachte-Maria-Leerne and subsequently to Afsnee. At Villa Malpertuis, the home of their patron Paul Gustave Van Hecke, Van den Berghe was able to work undisturbed. It was during this period that he produced some of his best Expressionist paintings, including this double portrait of Paul Gustave Van Hecke and His Wife Norine De Schrijver. The man to which the artist owed so much is represented in a bold, dominant pose. His posture is self-assured and confronts the viewer directly. His wife Norine, depicted in profile, sits firmly by his side, literally and figuratively, for her successful Brussels fashion house ‘Maison Norine’ always provided financial security.

A model patron

Van Hecke was one of those rare people who, while not artists themselves, played an invaluable role in promoting art. As a manager and patron of several artists, he was a catalyst for Belgian artistic output between the First and the Second World Wars.

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