Eugene Joseph Verboeckhoven

1799 – 1881

Belgian School

Born in Warneton in Western Flanders in 1799 Eugene Joseph was the son of the Sculptor Bartholomew Verboeckhoven and studied with A. Voituron and Ommegank, and other animal painters in the tradition of Paulus Potter. Verboeckhoven was successful from the outset of his career, with both public and private support. He specialised in animal paintings with a particular interest in sheep as well as birds. He was well known for his cattle paintings and Baron Rothschild in 1834 paid him the sum of 10,000Francs for a full sized landscape, and since that picture has not painted anything of that size for less.

He exhibited in Brussels in 1824 and in Paris in 1831. At the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1855 he showed several paintings, including ‘Bergerie Camponoise’, ‘Sheep and Lambs (also known as the Good Mother). In 1857 he sent two ‘Souvenirs of Scotland’ to the Paris Exhibition. A painting, ‘Landscape with Herdsman and Cattle’, that he exhibited in Brussels in 1824, for instance, was bought during the same year by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The following year the same museum bought a second example of his work.

The artist travelled extensively, visiting the Ardennes and France in his early twenties. In 1824 he visited London where he stayed for a time, making several lithographs which found a ready audience in England’s capital. He visited consecutively, England, Germany, France and Italy.

Moving from Ghent to Brussels in 1827, Verboeckhoven placed himself at the centre of artistic activity in Belgium. The year he arrived he exhibited three paintings at the Brussels Fine Arts Exhibition. All three were sold before the show even opened. Indeed, his work was so highly acclaimed that he came to the attention of King Leopold I, previously Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, and the uncle of Queen Victoria.

Leopold I was quite taken with the work of Verboeckhoven, and in 1832 the artist completed a commissioned painting of the Queen’s dog, a “Batelier” dog, looking somewhat similar to a rough-coated basset. Indeed, an inventory of the contents of the Royal Palace at Laeken, reveals that one of Verboeckhoven’s paintings hung in Leopold’s private drawing room.

He has also painted many landscapes and portraits including those of Horace Vernet and Soliman Pasha. He even tried his hand at sculpture, his figure entitled ‘Meditation’ showed considerable merit. It was in 1833, when the artist was only 34 years old that his first biography appeared. Verboeckhoven had become a major Flemish and world artist, and in 1833 he was named a Chevalier of the Order of Leopold, receiving a gold medal at Lille in 1834.

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