Lot 20
  • 20

Léon Herbo

Estimate
60,000 - 80,000 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Léon Herbo
  • The Wedding Feast
  • signed Léon Herbo (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 39 1/4 by 57 1/8 in.
  • 100 by 145.1 cm

Provenance

Private Collection (probably acquired directly from the artist and thence by descent)

Exhibited

Probably, Sydney, International Exhibition, 1879 (according to a label fragment on reverse)
Probably, Melbourne International Exhibition: Belgium. Works of Art, 1880, no. 36 (as A Marriage)
Munich, Königlichen Glaspalaste zu München, Internationalen Kunstausstellung, 1888, no. 1206 (as Hochzeitsmahl)

Catalogue Note

This lively composition likely commemorates the marriage of Laurence Minne and Achille Marchand (1849 – 1925), a renowned Belgian architect.  Wine flows and food is plentiful at this wedding feast, as guests of all ages crowd inside a restaurant and share in the celebration.  Despite the activity surrounding them, the newlyweds at the center of the table are engrossed in a secretive exchange as the bride coyly glances at the gold pocket watch in her groom’s hand, perhaps hinting at an imminent departure.  

The gentleman in the foreground offering a small white flower to an elegant woman adorned in blue bears a likeness to the artist himself, while a man admiring a young girl in vibrant green at the far right resembles the groom’s brother, Emile Marchand.  Both Herbo and Emile Marchand helped found  L’Essor, a progressive group of artists from Brussels who sought to rebel against conservative artistic circles of Belgium.  The group was active circa 1876-1881 and included artists such as Fernand Khnopff and Théo van Rysselberghe.

Throughout his career, Herbo specialized in society portraits, and the present composition is among his most accomplished. The small sketches he completed for the present work illuminate his careful and painstaking arrangement of figures within the crowded scene.  If by including his own portrait in The Wedding Feast Herbo has confirmed a close connection to the bride and groom, it is possible that the painting was a gift for the loving couple.  Nevertheless, the work appears to have charmed international audiences, as it is probably the painting exhibited as “A Marriage” in the Belgian pavilion at the International Exhibitions of Sydney (1879) and Melbourne (1880).

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