Guillaume Van Strydonk, one of the leading Belgian avant-garde painters and member of Les XX, lived on and of in India between 1891 and 1896.
He must have painted this oil sketch of the elephant procession during the Dusera festival in Mysore in the Autumn of 1892. This was a preliminary depiction for a huge painting ordered by the local Maharaja as a present for Queen Victoria of England. Sadly that painting was lost during the fire that destroyed the Maharaja’s palace in 1893.
About Guillaume Van Strydonck
Namsos, Norway 1861 – 1937 Brussels
Painter of landscapes, genre scenes, historic scenes and portraits.
Guillaume’s father worked for a Belgian sawmill company (from his birthplace Bruges) in a small town in the N. of Norway, Namsos. Two years after his birth the family returned to Belgium.
- the portrait painter Edouard Agneessens in 1873 (at the age of 12): drawing lessons;
- the Fine Arts Academy of Brussels between 1876 and 1880, where one of his professors was the Orientalist painter Jan Frans Portaels;
- the Orientalist and Greek revival painter Jean-Léon Gérôme at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts of Paris between 1880 and 1882.
Guillaume Van Strydonck had a strong personality and at a young age he was already one of the most remarkable artists of the Belgian avant-garde. He was one of the founding members of the Belgian artistic circle of “Les Vingt” (“Les XX), that held each year between 1883 and 1893 progressive international art exhibitions. Interesting foreign painters (mostly French) were invited here: Cézanne, Gauguin Signac, Monet, Renoir, … the list is long. Vincent Van Gogh sold only two painting in his entire life: a portrait for 20 francs in 1888 and two years later, during the 1890 exhibition of Les XX , “La vigne rouge” (today in Moscow at the Pouchkine Museum) for 400 francs to the Neo-Impressionist Belgian painter Anna Boch.
In the summer of 1885 Guillaume Van Strydonck left for Florida with his friend, the Belgian patron of the arts, Henri Van Cutsem. In the spring of 1886 Van Strydonck got married in Brussels, he would divorce in 1909.
Between 1891 and 1896 he travelled in India (and in Sri Lanka).
In 1912 he travelled to Monaco, in 1930 he stayed for several months in Morocco, in Casablanca.
Van Strydonck died in 1937 at the age of 76.
About our painting
Our painter evolved rapidly from a Realist to an Impressionist and Luminist technique.
India, just as the Maghreb, Egypt and Turkey, attracted during the 19th century many European painters overwhelmed by new sensations of colours and smells in unconventional, exotic, ancient societies bathing in a warm light.
Four years after the birth of his first child, a daughter, Van Strydonck left for Madras in India May 3rd 1891. Initially he thought of going there for six months, but he stayed a total of five years, until 1896, interrupted by four returns to Brussels. During this first trip he travelled in S. India and settled in Madurai. In the spring of 1892 he returned to Brussels for an exhibition of Les XX, leaving soon after again, in June 1892, and settling in Mysore. He was joined by his wife and daughter a few months later, in October. His son was be born in S.India.
Our oil sketch Nr. 12, probably painted in 1892, was a preparatory study for a huge painting, 5 by 2 meter, ordered by Chamarajendra Wadiyar X (1863 – 1894), the 23rd Maharaja of Mysore, as a present for Queen Victoria of England, representing the Procession of Dasara in Mysore.
The huge, finished painting was destroyed in 1893 during a wedding ceremony, when a fire burned down the original Wodeyar Palace of Mysore (constructed in 1803). A new palace was built on the same location in 1912.
The 10-day Hindu festival of Dasara (or Dussehra) has been held for over 400 years in Mysore in the state of Karnataka during our months of September-October. It celebrates the victory of truth over evil. Its climax is the traditional Jamboo Savari elephant procession. The lead elephant carried in a 750 kg golden Howdah (elephant seat) the local Maharaja. In modern times (since the abolition of royalty in 1947) it carries the idol of the goddess Chamundeshwari.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because this exotic, vibrant sketch is painted in an incredibly modern, daring way.