19th Century Painting

Gustave Wappers (1807-1874): Belgian Romantic

Gustave Wappers: Episode During the Belgian Revolution of 1830, 1834. Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Brussels.

National identity was another major Romantic theme, and one particularly relevant for the newly independent Belgium. At mid-century a number of painters focused on themes from Belgian history. Gustave Wappers (1807-74) became famous for his 1834 picture Episode During the Belgian Revolution of 1830, which commemorated Belgian resistance to the Dutch invaders during the revolution for independence. This rather theatrical reenactment of a moment of revolutionary fervor parallels Eugène Delacroix's painting Liberty Leading the People (1830, Louvre) and Francois Rude's sculpture on the face of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, La Marseilles, or The Departure of the Volunteers of 1793 (1833). Although it is a contemporary scene, the staged quality and emotionalism mark it as a Romantic work. Despite some unconvincing gestures and poses, Wappers' painting has considerable energy.

-- Jeffery Howe

Photos by Jeffery Howe