Sint-Eloois-Vijve 1849 - Astene 1924
oil on canvas
59 x 91 cm
Inventory number 1836
The Flemish painter Emile Claus was a great admirer of the French Impressionist Claude Monet. No surprise, then, that he would become a pioneer of so-called Luminism, the Belgian brand of Impressionism. This evocation of Summer from 1893 demonstrates quite clearly how light and colour assumed an even more important role than previously in Claus’s paintings. Amidst the ripe cornstalks, a peasant woman is herding a cow. The trees further in the background obscure the sky. The painting offers very little in the way of realistic detail. The composition is more about the luminosity of the colours. It is as if Claus was blinded by the bright sunlight that floods the scene from the right. And perhaps he was, because, as a so-called pleinairist, Claus used to paint in the outdoors to capture the changing seasons and weather conditions directly. The landscape around the river Lys and peasant life would continue to inspire him, canvas after canvas.
This painting mimics the luminosity of a hot summer’s day perfectly. By applying small, nervous streaks of paint, Claus creates the illusion of shimmering light and air. In fact, you can almost sense the heat of summer radiate from the canvas.