The Meal


Henri De Braekeleer
Antwerp 1840 - Antwerp 1888
oil on canvas
96 x 121 x 7 cm
Inventory number 2820

In this busy interior, 19th-century Antwerp-born painter Henri De Braekeleer combines a number of wonderful still-lifes around a young woman seated at a table. The furniture, the bouquets and the household goods are from his parental home, and the paintings against the wall are by his own hand. The composition is a feast of light and colour, an orgy to the eye. De Braekeleer clearly enjoyed representing all these different shapes, textures and materials.
The Meal or The Dessert, as the painting was originally known, marked a stylistic turning point in the oeuvre of De Braekeleer. The sunny aspect in particular was new. The various white areas enhance the brightness of the composition, as the artist strove to merge colour and light. Yet he does more than simply register reality: the painting is, first and foremost, a revelation of the poetry of daily life.


The woman at the table is Elisabeth or Betsy, De Braekeleer's youngest sister. She is eating an orange. Note that this pose is repeated in one of the paintings on the wall.

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