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Jean Baptiste van Eycken

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Painter, born at Brussels, Belgium, 16 September, 1809; died at Schaerbeek, 19 December, 1853. He was the son of Corneille van Eycken and Elise Cordemans, and as a boy was employed in commercial pursuits, but from 1829, when his father died, he gave himself over entirely to the study of art. In 1830 he became a member of the Academy of Belgium, in 1835 gained an important prize with high distinctions, and four years afterwards was appointed professor of drawing and painting. In 1838 he went to Italy, returning in 1839 and resuming his professorship. In that year he exhibited his great picture of "Divine Pity", which was warmly received and brought him a gold medal and a high position in the Société des Beaux Arts de France. He married in 1840 Julie Noël, who died 11 February, 1843. Two of his most important pictures were those representing "Captive Christians " and "St. Boniface", for the church of La Chapelle ; but for the same building he carried out no less than fourteen pictures representing the Passion of Christ and these were exhibited in 1847 and gained for him the Order of Leopold. His best-known picture perhaps is entitled "L'Abondance", a replica of which the artist was employed to make for the Prince Consort of England, according to the instructions of Louise Marie, Queen of the Belgians. He was intensely interested in the subject of mural decoration, and studied every variety of it very closely, preparing a long essay on the subject and a series of paintings representing the Beatitudes, in order to exemplify his ideas in this direction. He also gave some attention to sculpture and to designing medallions. He was a very devout man, true to his faith and to his friends, and very much respected by all who knew him. His pictures are marked by considerable religious feeling, grace, tenderness, and delicacy. (For further details, see a life of the artist published privately in Brussels by Emile van Arenbergh, no date ).

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