Dendermonde 1876-1974 Zeveneken
oil on canvas
85 x 110 cm 33.5 x 43.3 in
signed lower right Jan Maes
Provenance: Private collection
Jan Maes’ art is an impressionism of the sensitive type. His subtle landscapes are pure atmospheric evocations and cause an emotion. Sometimes the influence of his former master Isidore Meyers is visible in the free realism with impressionist accents. His powerful and altogether quiet landscapes make him an exemplary artist of the Dendermondse School of painters. His pretty heterogeneous oeuvre – through experiments in different styles – is pure and of an astonishing quality in his best works. Generally it shows a progression towards a synthesis. Just like Leo Spanoghe he has a synthetic vision – with attention for large colour patches – in which construction is ever more important. The combination of an almost geometrical patron and the use of the pallet-knife clearly has influenced artists like Prosper Bosteels.
Jan Maes’ broad, heavy paint-layers show a loose and fluent brushwork. His sumptuous and colourful pallet progress from sombre towards lighter tonalities. His vivid colours are mirrored in the works of his contemporaries Herman Broeckaert, Pieter Gorus and Léo Spanoghe who also were active around the village of Vlassenbroek near Dendermonde in around 1907.
Just like with most artists active belonging to the Dendermondse School Jan Maes’ oeuvre is an ode of nature and the landscape of the Schelde. In his most interesting works he praises the grandeur of this river in a vivid way with the characteristic walnut-trees on the dykes, the fishermen, the sailing ships and the colourful banks. He painted the polders at dusk and dawn, under different seasons and changing weather conditions.
Whole his live Jan Maes lived in the centre of the town of Dendermonde, only moving to the village of Zeveneken at the age of 97. His oeuvre counts a few town views of Dendermonde with the picturesque old houses and painterly scenes. Just like Herman Broeckaert and Pieter Gorus he did paint the ruins of the destroyed town during the war in 1914 and 1915. Some of his paintings show the mouth of the river Schelde, the town of Lissewege and the harbour of Zeebruges.
Jan Maes was a pupil of Jacques Rosseels and Isidore Meyers at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Dendermonde from 1890 until 1898. After receiving numerous distinctions he attended classes at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels. In 1905 he became appointed as a drawing-teacher at the academy in Dendermonde. All his live he kept on teaching – from 1934 on including painting - until his retirement in 1941. Stephan Gorus and Louis De Saegher were among his pupils. From 1938 to 1941 Jan Maes was director of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Dendermonde, as a successor of the painter Felix Gogo.
Jan Maes was a member of the local artists’ association the Kunstgilde and participated in numerous group exhibitions. His paintings were shown at all retrospective exhibitions of the Dendermondse School.
Individual exhibitions of his work were regularly shown in Dendermonde from 1925 until 1969. Outside the town of Dendermonde shows were organised several galleries like the Brussels Salle Mommen in 1923, in Kortrijk (1928) and Hamme (1929), in the Antwerp Salle Oor and the Brussels Galerie Portenart both in 1930 and the Zaal Taets in 1934 in Gent.
Several of his paintings were acquired by the Belgian State in 1919 and 1925 and by the City of Dendermonde in 1932, 1949 and 1988. Jan Maes was an Honorary-Director of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of the City of Dendermonde.
Museums: Koninklijke Bibliotheek Albert I – Prentenkabinet, Brussels; Collection of the Belgian State; City Museum – Stedelijke Musea, Dendermonde; City Hall, Dendermonde
L’Art en Flandres – L’Art moderne en Flandres Frédéric de Smet in Gand Artistique, art et esthétique – Numéro spécial sur l’art dans les flandres Gand 3°jg. n°6 1 juin 1924
L’Art à Termonde Frédéric De Smet in Gand Artistique, art et esthétique Gand 9°jg. n°7 juillet 1930
Kunstaldum - Leven en werken onzer beeldende kunstenaars Jef Crick s.l.(Gent) 1935 vol.II
Dictionnaire biographique des sciences, des lettres et des arts en Belgique Eug De Seyn Bruxelles 1935 vol.II
Dictionnaire des peintres Paul Fierens Bruxelles s.d.(1951)
Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler Hans Vollmer Leipzig 1956 6 vol.IV
Jan Maes A Vlaskop Cultureel Centrum Aymon Dendermonde 1969
Retrospectieve Dendermondse Schilderschool L Theo van Looy Dendermonde 2-25/10/1971
De Dendermondse Schilderschool Dr Jean-Pierre de Bruyn Dendermonde 1982
Beknopte biografiën van geboren Dendermondenaars M De Decker Dendermonde 1984
De Schelde in de schilderkunst Stedelijk Museum Sint-Niklaas 2/3-11/5/1986
Het impressionisme en het fauvisme in België S Goyens de Heusch Antwerpen 1988
Belgian Artists’ Signatures Paul-L Piron Brussels 1989 vol.I
Catalogus schilderijen A Stroobants, dr JP De Bruyn Stedelijke Musea Dendermonde 1992 Gedenkschriften van de Oudheidkundige Kring van het Land van Dendermonde Buitengewone uitgaven n°30 (Jaarboek 1991)
De Dendermondse schilderschool, een kunsthistorische benadering Dr JP De Bruyn Dendermonde 1994
Le dictionnaire des peintres belges, du XIVe siècle à nos jours E de Wilde Bruxelles 1995 vol.II
Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs E Bénézit Paris 1999 vol.VIII
De Belgische beeldende kunstenaars uit de 19de en 20ste eeuw Paul Piron Brussel 1999 vol.II
De Dendermondse School doorheen twee eeuwen kunstacademie, 1800-2000 Dr JP De Bruyn, Dr A Stroobants Dendermonde 2000
Dendermonde in artistiek perspectief Dr JP De Bruyn Stedelijke Musea & Oudheidkundige Kring Stadhuis Dendermonde 28/4-20/5/2007