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Rodolphe Wytsman

Rodolphe Wytsman

Dendermonde 1860 - Linkebeek 1927

Rodolphe Wytsman grew up in a cultured environment. His father was (apart from a notary) a numismatist, historian and composer. Among his friends were the Flemish composers François Auguste Gevaert and Peter Benoit and the French literary figure, Victor Hugo. In 1873 Wytsman took courses at the Academy in Ghent. Wytsman became friends with artists Van Rysselberghe, Gustave Vanaise and Armand Heins. As a painter Wytsman gravitated towards landscapes. His early works (at this time painted near Ghent) were realistic. In the following years he developed a more pre-impressionist style. By 1881 Wytsman lived in Brussels, where he was influenced by early Modernist Painting. At the Brussels Academy, he came into contact with the artists group L’Essor. Wytsman’s training ended in 1881. By that time he had already exhibited at the Salon of Ghent.

Wytsman was a founding member of Les XX. Until 1887, Wytsman exhibited in the annual Salons of Les XX. In 1886 Wytsman married Juliette Trullemans. It was an ideal pairing: both painted sunlit landscapes and tableaux. The two artists’ careers melded harmoniously. They developed close friendships with the Luminist painter Emile Claus. Around their house was a large flower garden in the midst of a largely untouched landscape, which inspired many paintings. Besides participating in the Triennial Salons of Antwerp, Brussels and Ghent, he organised some double exhibitions with his wife at smaller salons in other cities. 

When World War I broke out The Wytsmans moved to Rotterdam where they discreetly supported needy colleagues, including painter and sculptor Rik Wouters. Upon their return to Linkebeek in 1918, Rodolphe Wytsman’s technique reflected a realistic pre-impressionist style. He sought to depict the effects of intense light in his paintings. Both Wytsman and Trullemans are among the main representatives of the Luminist genre in Flanders.