Gustave de Smet (1877-1943)  - Vase of flowers, Oil on canvas mounted on panel
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Gustave de Smet (1877-1943) Vase of flowers, Oil on canvas mounted on panel


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Still life with a floral vase, oil on canvas mounted on panel signed at the bottom right «Gust. De Smet».

While the oil on canvas is not dated, this still life titled Vase of Flowers is a recognizable work from the post-impressionist period of Gustave de Smet (Ghent 1877- Deurle 1948). With academic training and a prominent figure in the second group of Laethem-Saint-Martin, he transitioned to impressionism from 1906 to 1915, characterized by poetic, sometimes melancholic, and romantic nuances.

In this work, the artist's palette is limited to complementary colors: green and red, experimented with by his Impressionist Masters a few years earlier. His canvases are generally dominated by a restricted number of colors. Here, the combination of contrasting tones highlights each element of the composition in diffuse light. Warm and cool tones respond to each other even in the colored background of the painting. The soft green tones bring light and dimension to the composition. The subject occupies the entire pictorial space on a single plane. The bouquet of flowers is treated with beautiful homogeneity between the flowers, stems, and leaves, offering a harmonious and aesthetic balance to the composition. The broken lines of the stems skillfully break the verticality of the bouquet, unfolding almost symmetrically. The vase with handles, adorned with thick black outlines, occupies almost half of the canvas. Flower stems are visible in the vase, on which the artist has painted reflections. The bouquet rests on a table suggested by a darker mass bordered in black. Some leaves, still fresh, fallen on the table, enliven the composition. The visible brushstroke is vigorous. Designed as a close-up portrait, this still life shows no anecdotes. The painter creates this artwork not for the flowers themselves but rather for the interplay of shapes and colors they offer. He stages it remarkably, as a projection surface, and in the expression of its reality.

Still lifes are one of the artist's preferred and consistent subjects throughout his career, transitioning from impressionism to expressionism where he explores rustic and everyday themes. He enjoys painting flower bouquets, varying the composition as exercises on shapes and colors. While not exclusively painting still lifes, Gustave de Smet frequently adds flower bouquets to his more intimate compositions depicting genre paintings and portraits such as 'The Woman with the Rosebush' from 1912 or 'Béatrice' from 1923. Similarly, he introduces bouquets into some of his rural landscapes.

Gustave de Smet is one of the many artists who did not sign all of his works; however, this one is signed at the bottom right «Gust. De Smet».

Gustave de Smet (1877-1943)  - Vase of flowers, Oil on canvas mounted on panel
© 2023 - Luxvic


  • Time: 20th century
  • Origin: Belgium
  • Artist: Gustave de Smet
  • Material or technique: Oil on board
  • Sizes: 54 x 73.5 cm (Width x Height)

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