|Valerius de Saedeleer ‘Spring blossom’|
Our auction of 23 November 2021 contains this masterpiece by Valerius de Saedeleer (1867-1941).
In 1910 Jozef Muls wrote about an article about him, below you can read an extract of it.
How can it be explained that we, who stand in this time and sympathize with the immense art movement, which, in the landscape, always strives for fuller truth and, with new means, for greater beauty, can still feel admiration for the work of de Saedeleer, which goes back centuries and represents his subjects with the color and painting style of the late Middle Ages? We are of our time. We can no longer understand the medieval symbolism of a Breughel landscape with such certainty and sensitivity, because our lives have taken a different turn and we have to see things differently and have to render them differently. Most of us, as they were shaped by Impressionism and Luminism, and so many other factors of the age, are more in favor of all the startling conquests of the greatest of our modern progressive masters.
Yet we remain faced with the work of de Saedeleer, which is such a striking anachronism. This can be explained, I believe, because in this work, in a sense, the perfect was realized. The landscapes of the Saedeleer appear to us with such fullness of expression, in their relativity, that it seems to us, at the moment of contemplation, as if the landscape could no longer be imagined otherwise. All our attention is taken and that way of seeing and painting, there before us, would seem to us the only true one, if we did not know that tomorrow perhaps Turner, Claus or Verstraete will make us judge differently. Such is the power of the artist, it works on us like the word of a great orator, who, by his eloquence and a deeper understanding of his subject, gives us the conviction, if only instantaneously, that his subject is the excellent and the only thing worthy of our attention. (..)
He is not so much looking for a representation of reality, but suggests and stylizes, no longer out of childish awkwardness as sometimes with Breughel, but in order to convey a certain impression. With this sober pious language of Breughel he says something different and in such a catchy way. He has the deep sense of nature that the old master lacked. That feeling is not the result of a single impression, it is the soul of an entire region speaking to him. He is thereby a thinker and his feelings grow and generalize into grandiose emotions that go and come, in eternally slow swell, like ebb and flow, like seasons of life and divide his work into stormy days, into winter days, into gray days, into sunny days to dawn. (..)
The landscape has become beautiful to him because it expresses all those thoughts and feelings that are his own and so dearly dear: peace, tranquility, silence, fear, resignation.(..)
And see how Breughel’s way works out wonderfully here. It’s simplified symbolism gives greater meaning to everything. Thus the trees of the Saedeleer are not real trees, but stylized they generate in us tremendous thoughts of trees in all their changing forms.
Jozef Muls in ‘Vlaamsche Arbeid’, 1910, p. 168.
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