La Couturière, ca. 1878
Pencil and watercolor on paper | 240 x 175 mm
Indistinctly signed bottom right 'Emile Hoeterickx'
Verso with stamp 'Collection Emile Hoeterickx / Serie n°304'
Vente d'atelier, 11th of March 1924, cat. n° 304
Private collection, Belgium
Click image to enlarge
Dating from his first period, when the artist was only about 20 years of age and recently graduated from the Brussels Academy of Fine Arts, this rare watercolor foretells the success which Hoeterickx will have with his refined works on paper. No one less than Vincent Van Gogh writes to his brother Théo, after seeing works by Hoeterickx exhibited in The Hague in 1882:
"My dear Théo, (...) There were beautiful town and beach views with small figures by Hoeterickx. However beautiful I find his present drawings, it seems to me a pity that he hasn’t stuck to his first manner, when he did types from the common folk."* - Vincent Van Gogh
Some months later, in early February of 1883, Vincent writes his brother again on Hoeterickx:
"Is the work of Jules Goupil still beautiful? One is prompted to ask this when one sees men like Emile Wauters and Hoeterickx, for instance, exchanging their powerful snatches from reality for things that are, yes, refined and finely felt too, yet don’t match the boldness of their early work, and betray a certain timidity almost. And when things go like that, it’s a pity. To stay bold — like Israëls, say — how few there are who bring it off."** - Vincent Van Gogh
Van Gogh refers to similar works as the one presented here. While his later works are focused on street- and marketviews of Brussels and scenes of leisure in the public parks around the capital, this early drawing zooms in on the life of a seamstress. Boldly sketched with patches of color, the young artist shows his mastery in the watercolor technique by using the whites of his sheet of paper and by carefully bestowing life and light unto the drawing. Regarded as a true "impressionist" Hoeterickx captures the impressions of everyday moments and their atmospheres. It is only in second instance that one sees the influence of the 17th century masters and the resulting gentle light. This first period of the artist will only last about four years, as does his second period. From about 1888, Hoeterickx's style was fully formed and would continue -almost unchanged- into the twentienth century.
___________ Notes ___________
* Letter 265 To Theo van Gogh. The Hague, Sunday, 17 or Monday, 18 September 1882.
** Letter 316 To Theo van Gogh. The Hague, on or about Thursday, 15 February 1883.