Moreau, Henri (1869-1943)

Moreau, Henri (1869-1943)

Belgian artist Henri Moreau displayed a tendency for depicting women wrapped in sumptuous interiors. Nudes, in particular, were a favourite of his brush. His works are a heady mix of classical beauty and modernist moodiness.

Moreau was Belgian by birth and by artistic practice. He exhibited in his homeland frequently, including the Brussels International Exhibition of 1910. He also, however, had strong ties to neighbouring France. Indeed, the captivating and alluring female figures he favoured evoke the classical paintings of High Art. Creamy curves and soft skin are reminiscent of the idealised forms of the Classical world so admired by the academies.

However, those in which a sumptuous yet modern interior are included are more reminiscent of the ‘boudoir’ form of art popularised in France in the early 20th-Century by William Albert Ablett (1877-1937). Women lay scantily dressed against plump cushions amongst fine interiors. Art deco meets classical beauty to create a modern mix.

Moreau moved to Paris in the 1920s, and therefore it is likely he derived inspiration from the fashionable, fantastical world that surrounded him. Perhaps one of the women he features is his wife. There is a similarity of likeness in the knowing, contemplative features of the women he paints.

Moreau also executed a number of still life paintings and landscapes. Still life had grown increasingly popular throughout the second half of the 19th-Century, and by the time he was painting in the early 20th-Century was a respected subject in its own right. His landscapes suggest an interest in, and perhaps travel to, America. With a crisp, clear realism Moreau depicts a Native American man atop a rocky mountain region.

Moreau also acted as a painting tutor to his son, Max-Léon Moreau (1902-1992). Moreau the younger became a prominent society portrait painter during his lifetime, and his home in Spain is now a museum filled with his works. There are certain similarities in style and execution to his father’s work, demonstrative of the lessons of the elder. Indeed, Max-Léon Moreau apparently expressed a ‘deep admiration’ for his father and his teachings, often watching him work as a young boy. The younger Moreau also accompanied the older on trips to Belgian theatres, perhaps to garner inspiration from the trendy, fashionable theatregoers and the lavish displays of the sets.

Whilst the son would go further than the father in infamy and reputation, Moreau cultivated his own painting career whilst passing on his knowledge to kickstart his son’s career.

1869

Born in Mons, Belgium.

1892

First exhibited in Antwerp, Belgium.

1902

Son Max-Léon Moreau born in Soignies, Belgium.

1905

Moved to Brussels.

1910

Exhibited at the Brussels International Exhibition.

1913

Exhibited in Wiesbaden, Germany.

1918

Exhibited in Brussels, Belgium.

1920

Moved to Paris.

1928

Exhibited in Antwerp, Belgium.

1943

Died.

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