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© Whitford Fine Art 2017

Léon FRÉDÉRIC (Belgian 1856-1940)

Leon Frédéric drew on contemporary and centuries-old influences as well as on his very personal spiritual views of life and nature to evolve his unique artistic style. Working during a period when Impressionism and its offspring Divisionism and Post-Impressionism were the mainstay of avant-garde art, Frédéric's supra-realism comes as a considerable and impressive surprise. A student at the Brussels Académie des Beaux-Arts, and pupil of Jean-François Portaels, the tone of Frédéric's work was largely formed by the Italian and Flemish art of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and the poetic painting of the Pre-Raphaelites. Two years in Italy (1876-78, Venice, Florence Naples and Rome), working with the Belgian sculptor Julien Dillens and exposed to the work of the Renaissance, gave him a sense of the profound beauty of Nature, its artistic potential of harmony, and the inherent dignity of human kind. Yet this was balanced by a personal sense of truthfulness to Nature, reinforced by the old Flemish painters who had directly studied their surroundings. Both Schools had depicted the world through clear, detailed compositions and their influence on the artist gives his work an unquestionable honesty.
Whereas in his Symbolist work, including the large 'cycles of life', Frédéric tried to unify Christian mysticism with social revolt, his landscapes bathe in a Pantheist communion with Nature.

Following his stay in Rome, Frédéric made his debut at the Brussels Salon in 1879, then at the 'L'Essor' circle. Subsequently, his work was exhibited in Ghent, Liège, Munich, Nice and Paris. He was awarded golden medals for painting at the Exposition Universelle of 1889 and 1900 and in 1929, together with James Ensor, Frédéric was created a baron.


collections include
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Antwerp
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Ghent
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Liège
Musée Royal des Beaux-Arts, Brussels