The Painting of Anto Carte: A Private Passion
Our autumn auction pays tribute to Belgium with a collection of nine works by the iconic painter Anto Carte (1886-1954) who, for some years now, has been setting Parisian auction houses alight with two recent records: Le Pain, 1921 (516,500 EUR, March 2019) and Bénédicité, 1921 (459,000 EUR, June 2016). This collection comes from a family of art lovers who acquired this collection of the artist’s work over many years. In their eyes, it transcends trends, lying between modernity and decorative art.
As a humanist painter dedicated to the human condition, Anto Carte was a member of the “Belgian Imagists" group alongside Valerius de Saedeleer and Gustave van de Woestyne, with whom he exhibited in Paris in 1923. Precision of line was a characteristic feature of the work of this artist who would go on to found the Groupe Nervia (1928-1938), along with the painter Louis Buisseret and the art insurer Léon Eeckman. This group, led by the older members Anto Carte and Louis Buisseret, but also by Pierre Paulus and Rodolphe Strebelle, aimed to support young artists from the province of Hainaut (Frans Depooter, Leon Devos, Leon Navez, Taf Wallet and Jean Winance) and promote and encourage the appreciation of Walloon art, often overshadowed by Flemish Expressionism.
The collection up for auction comprises five oil paintings, including some major works that reflect the artist’s spirit as well as all the trends that were dear to the great Walloon painter who settled early on in Brussels to teach at La Cambre, among other places: the lives of peasants and sailors (Le Batelier et la Sirène, undated, and Le Haleur, 1914), street performers and shows (Les Musiciens aveugles, 1927; Le Clown rouge, undated; Les Musiciens ambulants, 1925; Le Joueur de Viole, 1926, Allégorie des Arts, 1937), childhood and the figure of the mother (Maternité, 1927 and Souvenir de Lerici, 1932).
In addition to these works, which come from a family with such a keen eye for timeless art that is impervious to trends and currents, there is a series of pieces marked by a fantastical, dreamlike and decorative element. Among these are some intriguing images by the Belgian artist Emile Salkin (1900-1977), a friend of Paul Delvaux’s who painted many skeletons with him. Between art deco, metaphysics and surrealism, there are some astonishing oil paintings by Mariano Andreu (1888-1976) and Odette Marie Pauvert (1903-1966), in which religious connotations abound. The set would not be complete without the disconcerting compositions by Daniel Sabater y Salabert (1888-1951) and Ferdinand Max Bredt (1868-1921), which follow in the tradition of Henry Fuseli and Arnold Böcklin, further enhancing this private collection. Though the collection may appear traditional on the surface, it provides a window into the strange and wonderful.