Dendermonde 1881-1941 Zele
A View of the River Schelde in Autumn
oil on canvas
90 x 80 cm 35.4 x 31.5 in
signed lower left Pieter Gorus
Pieter Gorus is a representative artists of the group known as the Dendermondse School. He was active as a landscape painter of the rivers Schelde and Durme. Next to drawings, watercolours and pastels en handful of etchings by his hand are known to exist, some of which were used included in a novel of Karel Van de Woestijne. Influenced by Frans Courtens, he developed his own personality. Rich colours and a fairly large brushwork are some of his most important characteristics. Pieter Gorus was one of the most talented artists of his generation in Dendermonde, influencing in his turn a lot of colleagues.
Pieter Francis Lucianus Gorus was a child of the bourgeoisie of Dendermonde and studied as a mining engineer at the University of Leuven. From 1894 until 1904 he was a pupil of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Dendermonde. Among his fellow-pupils were Herman Brouckaert, Jan Maes and Léo Spanoghe. Gorus was a pupil of Isidore Meyers, Jacques Rosseels and Ferdinand Willaert. All his life he stayed in close contact with the institution, were he was himself a teacher from 1908 until 1925 and formed numerous pupils.
At Gorus’ debut he was influenced by Jacques Rosseels and Isidore Meyers. From 1901 on he lived for six years -in the company of Herman Brouckaert - in a studio in Weert (Bornem). Both artists regularly painted along the banks of the river Schelde – from Temse to Zele - accompanied by Leo Spanoghe and Tony Van Os. In 1904 Frans Courtens stayed for a while at Overmere-Donk. Soon he was painting in the company of several artists from Dendermonde, like Herman Brouckaert, Victor Gilsoul, Pieter Gorus and Ferdinand Willaert. In 1907 Herman Brouckaert and Pieter Gorus settled for three years with Leo Spanoghe in the village of Vlassenbroek near Dendermonde. These three artists painted the same motives during their wanderings along the river.
When married in 1910 Pieter Gorus went to live in the city of Dendermonde. Spanoghe established himself in the nearby village of Baasrode, while Herman Broeckaert and Tony Van Os went to live for two years in the village of Doel, at the Schelde opposite of Antwerp. The river-landscape along the Schelde and Durme still was Gorus’ preferred motive. However from c.1910 on the changing of the seasons was rendered more exuberant. Lively colours and a divided touch became typical elements of his paintings. A rich palette, intense and powerful colours and a vibrating brushwork became characteristic.
After the destruction of the city of Dendermonde in 1914, Pieter Gorus went to live for seven years in Overmere-Donk. The first two years however he continued to return to the city to depict the ruins in oil and watercolour. In the years 1919-1923 these souvenirs were several times exhibited. In Overmere-Donk – and especially in the surrounding gardens in Berlare – Pieter Gorus discovered the theme of autumn. Also the ponds with lime- and beech-trees became part of his usual repertoire.
In 1921 the artist established himself in a house near the river Schelde in Zele. Through the window of his studio he looked down at the polders with the spacious skies of cumulus clouds. The picturesque streets of Zele – with the imposing church-tower at the end – the old battered windmill and the orchards of Sint-Onolfsdijk with their white and pink blossoms became a new theme. These landscapes in spring showed the same brushwork, although they were executed in a heavier paste and more opaque colours. Also in the twenties Gorus was several times painting at the Belgian coast, in Bruges and Ghent. His trip to Rome of 1926 was an intermezzo in which mainly watercolours were executed. From 1926 on city views of Ghent and views of the castle in Laarne showed up in his oeuvre.
In the thirties Gorus’ experienced with pastel and the format of his oils became more reduced. Striking is that he paid less attention towards the typical heavy painted layers for which the Dendermondse School is known. Next to landscapes he painted a few still-lives.
Pieter Gorus was a member of the group Doe Stil Voort in Brussels and showed his paintings in the salons of 1910, 1911 and 1912. He also participated at the salon of the Antwerp organisation Als ick kan in 1905. His work was selected to be shown at the World exhibition of 1913 in Ghent, at exhibitions of Belgian Art in Algiers, Alexandria, Cairo and at retrospectives of the Painters of the School of Dendermonde in 1926, 1930, 1971, 2000 and 2007. In 1968 a street in Zele was named after him and in 1971 his memory was honoured with a commemorative plate at his former house.
Individual shows of Gorus’ oeuvre took place from 1900 on, mainly in galleries in Aalst, Antwerp (Galerij Arti, Loquet) Blankenberghe, Brussels (Galerie Boigelot, Le Studio, Galerie de la Toison d’Or), Dendermonde, Ghent (Galerie Taets, Tavernier, Van Eyck), Liège, Roeselare and Sint-Niklaas. Retrospective shows were organised in Bruges (Galerie San Salvador 1926), Dendermonde (1942 & 1950) and Zele (1941 & 1971). Next to those exhibitions he regularly participated in salons in Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, Namur end in the Salon des Indépendants in Paris. He also supported befriended artists by joining their exhibition: Isidore Boerwaard, Herman Broeckaert, Frans Courtens, Jos De Decker, Jan Maes, Leo Spanoghe and his children Albert, Ernest and Stephan Gorus.
Museums: Collection of the City of Dendermonde; City Museum, Dendermonde; City Museum, Sint-Niklaas; Collection of the City of Zele
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