Florent Willems

Élégante au Face à Main

Florent Willems

Élégante au Face à Main

This exquisite late 19th-century oil painting by Belgian artist Florent Willems (1823-1905) depicts a seated lady examining her hair via the use of two mirrors.

Florent Willems was predominantly known for his exquisite genre scenes featuring sumptuous interiors, lavish furnishings and decadent ladies. His approach was heavily influenced by his adoration for the Dutch and Flemish masters of the 17th century, hence his nickname, the 'modern Ter Borch'.

His attention to detail was quite extraordinary and led to a keen following during his lifetime. At just 19, King Leopold I of Belgium had acquired his ‘The Music Lesson’ and at 21 he’d been awarded a gold medal at the Paris Salon.

This particular piece appears to have been mentioned directly in Clarence Cook’s book, ‘Art and Artists of Our Time’ (1888).

“Willems's satin dresses, soberly handsome tables and cabinets, his leather-covered chairs - certainly not designed for a self-indulgent owner! A certain mirror in a black frame set easel-fashion on my lady's table, with her velvet pincushion in its mounting of filigree silver: all this externality, evidently studied from the real, and beautifully painted.”

Willems studied at the Academy of Mechelen and exhibited regularly at the salons of Brussels and Paris. He’s represented at numerous museums including the British Museum, the Musée d'Orsay, and Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.

Note the tricky reflection, which is rendered with ease and dexterity. The confident hand of a master.

Signed in the lower left and held within a gilt frame.

Learn more about Florent Willems in our directory.

Medium: Oil on panel
Overall size: 19½” x 22½” / 49cm x 57cm
Year of creation: c. 1880
Labels & Inscriptions: Inscribed on reverse.
Provenance: Private collection, England.
Condition: Artwork presents well. Frame with some light wear.
Artist’s auction maximum: £33,368

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

Stay In Touch
Subscribe to our Wednesday newsletter for the latest finds and 10% off your order.