New Arrivals: Léon de Smet

Will be auctioned on May 10 at Zuydwal Auctions. The Flemish artist Léon de Smet (1881-1966) painted in 1935 near his hometown of Deurle “Village at nightfall". In the twilight he paints the farm surrounded by trees in firm expressionist brushstrokes. The warm colors of red, yellow and green dominate the canvas.

Léon de Smet studied at the Royal Academy in Ghent. He took art lessons together with the later well-known painters Gustave van de Woestijne, Hippolyte Daeye and Maurice Sijs. During the First World War he moved to England and ended up in Devon. There he became a sought after portraitist of the beau monde. He is renowned for his use of color. Despite his British success, he returns to Belgium. After some wanderings, he chose the village of Deurle, just like his brother, the artist Gustave de Smet. He takes up residence in a summerhouse and can often be found in his lush flower garden. The Leie valley inspires him to make impressions of the villages of Sint-Martens-Latem, Deurle and Sint Denijs-Westrem.

His work can be seen in numerous exhibitions together with work by other well-known Belgian artists such as Josef Cantré, James Ensor, George Minne and Permeke. After seeing an exhibition in Ghent in 1933, the newspapers praise his paintings and in poetic terms they compare him to a jeweler of form and color. “The charm, the so special refinement of his palette often reminds us of a peacock's tail that can shine so delicately, so magically in the light." Comparisons with a jeweler do not come out of the blue. The painting of light and the associated use of color continue to dominate his work.

On his death in 1966, a journalist recalls that his art manages to capture the poetic and intimate of life. It is soothing and reminds us of the depth of life.

Léon de Smet (1881-1966)
Village at nightfall 1935
oil on canvas
68 x 59 cm
Signed bottom left

Origin of the artist's family, Belgium, private collection
Lit. Piet Boyens, Hans Bosschaert ‘Léon de Smet’ Tielt 1994, p. 200 and full-page image p 201.

Léon de Smet (1881-1966) Village at nightfall 1935


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