With a ‘wonderful gift of harmony and an exceedingly clever “technique,”’ Dutch-Belgian artist Jean Laudy was an extremely popular painter during the early 20th century. His varied oeuvre and energetic, impressionist painting style have seen his legacy continually celebrated to this day.
Born in the Netherlands city of Venlo, Laudy was first introduced to the arts by his father, who was a sculptor. He continued this interest by pursuing a formal education at the Brussels Royal Academy of Fine Arts in neighbouring Belgium. Here he received instruction from Isidore Verheyden (1846-1905), whose friendship and impressionistically inclined art proved a resounding influence. Laudy also received further arts training in Antwerp.
Laudy would remain in Brussels as he began to establish himself as a professional painter. He became involved in the bustling Brussels art scene, becoming a member of the art groups ‘L’Effort’ and ‘La Patte de Dindon.’ The latter involved the meeting of artists in a café of the same name, which offered them a place to socialise, practice, and overall intoxicate their artistic minds with bonhomie and joie de vivre! This was a lively set. Laudy was involved in a fiery and energetic art scene.
This fervour is reflected in his works. Heavily inspired by the impressionistic zeal which had interested his master, Verheyden, Laudy paints with incredible energy. He seems to capture the moment in all its fleeting glory through bold, defined brushstrokes. This he couples with an electric use of colour which brings a sense of timelessness to his images. They appear unendingly modern.
His paintings range from still lifes to nudes to portraits and genre scenes. Almost all aspects of life were captured by his hand. Laudy’s still lifes are extremely fascinating examples of his work. They demonstrate the sophisticated wielding of his brush. Flower petals are constructed from his defined brushstrokes, yet they do not appear blocky. Nor do they seem heavy. He seems to temper the touch of his brush to create a more delicate effect in the rendering of petals. His style adapts to the subject, and in turn, offers it a unique depiction.
Laudy became extremely successful as a portrait painter. He was employed to paint the portraits of the Belgian royal family, including Queen Elisabeth, and King Albert I. The success of these works saw him appointed as court painter to the royal household.
Such successes saw him become a member of the Brussels Royal Academy of Fine Arts. In 1921 he also became a Belgian citizen, demonstrating his love and loyalty. The city was so enamoured with Laudy in return that a street was named after him.
Laudy was also celebrated within his hometown of Venlo. He held a solo exhibition in the town in 1937. After his death, they also named a street after him. Indeed, celebrations of Laudy continue in Venlo to this day. A museum of his works was established in 2012 in a former chapel. Due to renovation works, unfortunately, the museum had to vacate this space. The Jean Laudy Foundation, however, has ensured that his works continue to be displayed and appreciated in venues across Venlo. One such venue is a café, and it seems fitting that his works should grace the walls of such a venue, as he used to grace the café ‘La Patte de Dindon.’
Laudy’s works feel as if they should be displayed amongst modern modes of living. Their timeless modernity gives them a sense of life which surpasses all boundaries and all generations. Today, they can also be seen in numerous museums across Belgium, including in Brussels and Mons.
Born in Venlo, Netherlands.
Moved to Brussels, Belgium.
Studied under Isidore Verheyden at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Brussels.
Became a Belgian citizen.
Solo exhibition of work held in Venlo, Netherlands.
Solo exhibition of work held in Brussels, Belgium.
Died in Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe, Belgium.