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Franz Charlet

Biography of Artist

Frantz (Frans) CHARLET

Belgium Painter of genre scenes, interiors, portraits, landscapes, and seascapes.

Frantz (or Frans) Charlet was born in Brussels in 1862 and first studied art at the Academy of Arts of his native city, making his exhibiting debut in Antwerp at the age of just 15. He went on to work under Jan Portaels before departing for Paris, where he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts from 1880-82 under

Jules Lefebvre, Carolus Duran and Gerome.

He made a painting tour of Spain, Morocco and Algeria with Theo van Rysselberghe, who was to become one of the major forces in Post-Impressionist art, and on their return journey via the South of France a dealer in Nice bought every one of Charlet’s studies. He also stayed with Whistler at Marken and Volendam in Holland, but there is no record of him having similarly upstaged the master.

Charlet exhibited regularly in Brussels, at the Paris Salon and in London, where between 1888 and 1913 he showed works at the Fine Art Society, Goupil Gallery and the Royal Institute of Painters in Oils. He received an honourable mention at the Paris Salon of 1884 and a third-class medal in the following year, and from 1903 was a member of the Societaire de la Nationale.

He co-founded the International Water-painting Society in 1906 and one of his watercolours entitled ‘The Fishermans Wife’ hangs in the Brussels Museum, ‘The Widower’, ‘Zealand Burgomaster and his family’ in the Antwerp Museum and in the Ghent Museum a picture entitled ‘The Gilded Houses of Bruges’

Primarily a painter of simple, realist scenes of peasant life, Charlet is accorded enormous respect by most authorities on the period. Benezit notes that “Charlet est un des peintres le plus importants de la nouvelle Ecole belge”, while Gerald Schurr suggests that “par l’humilite des themes, par les formes comme sculptes par la couleur, il evoque alors les premiers Van Gogh.” Meanwhile his role as founder-member of Les XX (a hugely influential group of Belgian painters) along with James Ensor and van Rysselberghe has ensured a favourable mention in any appraisal of Belgian art of this century. 

His works have been auctioned throughout Europe, the UK and the USA