Simonin, Victor (1877-1946)

Simonin, Victor (1877-1946)

Described as a “tender bohemian”, Victor Simonin was a Belgian artist predominantly known for his spirited landscapes and still lifes. Hailing from Ixelles, his legacy is one of vibrant arrangements underpinned by intelligent compositions - both expressive and respectful of tradition.

He trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels and under several masters including the post-impressionist Alfred Bastien (1873-1955), although rarely exhibited through choice. He was also an accomplished violinist until suffering a hand injury.



Born in Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium.


Enrolled at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Brussels.
Joined the artists’ association “Le Sillon”.

Trained under several masters including the post-impressionist Alfred Bastien (1873-1955) and Auguste Oleffe (1867-1931). Simultaneously studied music at the Brussels Conservatory.


Awarded the "Prix A. Oleffe" medal.


Died in Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium.


Le Peuple. Following a retrospective at the Salon de Printemps.

“A discreet but moving tribute was paid to the memory of Victor Simonin who died in his seventies in tragic conditions a few weeks ago. It was a picturesque countenance of artistic Brussels, this Porte de Namur, which is a bit like our Montparnasse. We loved this bohemian with the face of an old actor. His chatter with a Parisian accent sometimes made us forget that he had been one of the good painters of Labeur and Sillon. We will be pleased to see in the retrospective devoted to him some still lifes and snow landscapes which are solid and honest canvases.”

Nation Belge (1946). Following a retrospective at the Salon de Printemps. Translated from French.

“The present show contains a non-catalog entry which nevertheless constitutes its piece de resistance and which gives it its appeal. It is the posthumous tribute to Victor Simonin. We know the tragic fate of this artist. Painting, like poetry, is cursed. No doubt Simonin's real talent does not elevate him to the genius of Van Gogh if he followed the same destiny and met the same end.

He had made a long visit to the Dutch masters. He confided to an intimate friend the confession of his helplessness, the despair of what he called a failed career. A few flowers veiled in crepe above one of his canvases bear witness today to the conclusion he drew from it.

And yet these paintings are those of an artist in whom sensitivity quite simply joined the sensitivity of the eye and merged with it. A painter in love with atmosphere, of this intimate enchantment - of the light and air to which objects take on their life and where they make sense. That is especially sensitive in still lifes including one with apples which is a sort of masterpiece.

We find the same impregnation in a big snow effect with astonishing accuracy in everything. Which is, one could say, neither below, nor beyond, but to the point of the finest balance of nature and the impression produced by nature on the artist. This, which is sometimes called sincerity. And, in this sense, sincere painting, the deceased sets a great example. Who was not always followed around him, if we consider so many pieces of bravery where the painter appears to us like the opera tenor who advances to the footlights to launch his B natural. But why hide it when you have skill, talent, virtuosity?”

Le Soir

“Simonin Retrospective.

The Ixelles Art Center did an act of just piety by organising a retrospective of the painter Victor Simonin at the Cercles Artistique et Gaulois. This artist, who places us in the atmosphere of the old Sillon, is one of those who did not give everything that their technique and their initial successes promised. This is undoubtedly because his entire life was dominated by the concern for the work to be accomplished and that he died tragically with the feeling of not having fully accomplished himself.

He is, at first glance above all and almost exclusively, a painter of still lifes. Weren't they the most salable for him? However, it is certain that if he hardly modified his subjects and if we found in his paintings the same celery, the same leeks, the same onions, the same stoneware pots, the same copper, the same pewter, the same roses, the same anemones or the same peonies, with the same blue carpet, it wasn't, not only because this unfortunate bohemian would hardly have been able to find other motives. It is because the artist did not care much about the subjects of his painting. The parsimonious apparatus which served as a model was not for him that the pretext of the colourist virtuosities in which he took pleasure in colour was his only domain. With a vigorous brush stroke, he orchestrated the harmonies in warm and opulent scales, that was enough for him.

It would be said of him that he repeated himself that if we do not take into account, especially the identity of its motifs, but we are a colourist concerned with the chromatic decoration rather than the objects represented will find varieties there sufficient for his satisfaction. It could be difficult to highlight this or that still life because all are approximately of the same pictorial quality in the play of the abundant pastes.

Victor Simonin is one of the good-natured mortists of the contemporary Belgian school. We understand in looking at some of the landscapes included in the one hundred and twenty-two paintings of the current retrospective, that he sometimes expressed the wish to be able to escape from this production that is too strictly commercial for its graciousness. We will find, on the picture rails, views of the suburbs, corners of Nieu Port and gardens under the snow where freed from the necessities of the usual, he showed himself to be a painter of a rarer and more precious emotional quality.

For example, will we stop in front of two landscapes that will remind us of Vogels Influence? No, but similarity of sensitivity. These were two artists who were so killed on the same platform of emotion. The Simonin retrospective also carries some self-portraits and portraits of Maurice Waegemans and the sculptor Mascré which are of excellent quality. In any case, it allows us to place in his exact place a painter whose works we had, during his lifetime, seen only insufficiently to appreciate him to his extent.”

La Derniere Heure. Regarding a retrospective exhibition.

“Here is Victor Simonin, who died two years ago while at work, at the age of sixty-eight. He lives here again. Ah! What vigour, what passion, what abundance! Uniformity, no doubt, and we all know that boredom was born one day from uniformity. And yet, we never tire of admiring the talent of the painter. He sabres his canvases like a cavalry officer from the time when there were still riders and cavalry charges.

Without doubt, Simonin cuts still lifes, always the same, one might say. Yes, but with what mastery! It would make a pot of mustard tragic. It is because his personality overflows with such violence that he makes eloquent the slightest object that he jostles with his brushes. He is a solitary and withdrawn fighter. He does not go outside to look for his subjects, they are within him.

And yet... see these two seascapes, see his Workshop under the snow, see this sketch of a portrait by the sculptor Mascré... In truth, a beautiful painter in grey: soupieres, cauldrons, leeks, apples, flowers, grapes, turnips... It almost takes genius.”

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