Friday, September 17, 2010

Frans Van Leemputten's Ikelemba river

detail from share designed by Frans van Leemputten
Villagers under the palm-trees watching a steamer on the Ikelemba river.
Frans Van Leemputten

As a child, Frans van Leemputten (1850-1914), initially living on the countryside, had to move to a suburb in Bruxelles. In Brussels, he studied at the Académie Royale de Beaux-Arts, and became a well-known landscape and animal painter.

The wayside meeting
Frans Van Leemputten

Frans van Leemputten loved to portray the simple and slow-paced life on the countryside. The township scenes in his drawings and paintings show a remarkable sense for details, which make them unique topographical documents.  From the 1890s he became influenced by luminism and his paintings became brighter. Luminism, originally an American landscape painting style, is characterized by effects of light in landscapes emphasizing tranquility.

Van Leemputten frequently wandered around from Bruxelles to the border region in the Netherlands where he could observe the areas around and the daily life in the villages. He must have realised that this kind of life would disappear soon. Luckily he left us several wonderful works that, when watching, let you briefly escape from our hasty world.

share of Equatoriale Congolaise (IKELEMBA) designed by Frans van Leemputten
Société Equatoriale Congolaise (IKELEMBA)
Dixième d'Action Ordinaire, issued  in Antwerp, 1900
Printed by Vrijdaghs & Co.

I could not find out whether Frans Van Leemputten ever visited Belgian Congo.  Maybe he was influenced by one of his painting colleagues, Frans Hens, who had travelled in that vast new territory. The rural and bright African scenes portrayed by Hens could have inspired Van Leemputten to design this certificate. In this colonial period, when many new companies were incorporated, there was extra demand for vignette designs. Hens designed several Belgian Congo shares. For an artist, this meant an extra income.

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