Edouard Huberti – Peat pits in the Kempen – 18…

Edouard Huberti – Peat pits in the Kempen – 1855

oil on canvas, 67 x 108 cm, possession: The Friends of the School of Tervuren

The Kempen (also called Kempenland or Toxandria (old name)) is a geographic, in particular diluvial sand region in the northeast of Belgium and the southeast of the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant, south of the line Eindhoven-Tilburg.
The characteristic feature of the Kempen is their sandy soil, so that until 1860 the Kempen were largely covered with heathland, oak forests, fens and peatlands. Now there are a number of forests, fens, heaths and meadows, but due to heavy fertilization and ribbon development, these have gradually become a rather small-scale landscape. The relic areas are often located on the border between municipalities or in the midst of large-scale parceled agricultural lands. Usually they include marshes, donets and / or heathlands, often now forested with pine trees.

Edouard Jules Joseph Huberti (Brussel, 6 januari 1818 – Schaarbeek, 12 juni 1880) was een Belgische landschapschilder en aquarellist. Hij wordt gerekend tot de voorlopers van de School van Tervuren.

He followed the architecture course at the Antwerp Academy, where he won a prize. He was also a poet and a talented musician, classical singer and violinist. He even wrote several operettas. He then became a music teacher.

He is a “late calling” as a painter. There is an early work from 1837 known to him. It is an oil on cardboard and represents the Kleine Flossedelle in Tervuren. He had already discovered the Sonian Forest, like several other Brussels painters.

However, he only started painting professionally around 1860 and gave up his job as a music teacher. In the 1850s and 1860s, a number of painters, following the French School of Barbizon, had abandoned the academic maxims and had begun to paint in the open air. Such works then could not count on much understanding in the Brussels Salons. In the appreciation of the jury and the audience, historical scenes were at the top, followed by portrait art. Landscapes, still lifes and animal paintings were looked at very late and had to be put in magazines with a brief discussion.

Huberti became a pupil of the landscape painter Théodore Fourmois, who was barely four years older. Fourmois, who was also a counselor of Joseph Coosemans, regularly traveled with Huberti to the rural village of Tervuren. They came to sketch and paint in nature in a realistic way. Huberti, together with Fourmois, belonged to the first generation of Belgian landscape painters who stood for this style. The works of Huberti were appreciated by the painters’ colony in Tervuren and Alphonse Asselbergs became his pupil. In the evening, these artists sat in the inn “In den Vos” in Tervuren and talked to each other about their views of painting. It is during this period that the School of Tervuren originated and that, through the forerunners Fourmois and Huberti, Hippolyte Boulenger and Joseph Coosemans became great landscape painters. This School laid the foundation for a renewed landscape painting in Belgium in the 19th century.

But, in contrast to Fourmois who liked to paint groups of trees, Huberti wanted to see open, monotonous plains with here and there a single tree, dominated by a gray, changeable cloudy sky. After a few years, he left Tervuren and chose the vast plains of the Flemish countryside in the Antwerp and Limburg Kempen (including in Genk) and along the Scheldt polders. He also painted in Hainaut and in the Meuse valley around Anseremme. He is therefore also counted among the Colonie d’Anseremme.

He showed his works for the first time in 1857 at the Brussels Salon. His works impressed the World Fair of 1862 in London. In 1864 he participated in an exhibition of mainly realistic artists, organized by the Brussels art circle Cercle Artistique et Littéraire.

He became a founding member of the Brussels art circle Société Libre des Beaux-Arts in 1868 and was also a member of the Société Royale Belge des Aquarellistes. But because of his rather shy nature he did not mix much in the polemics that were discussed in these circles, but he did exhibit at their salons. He led a rather withdrawn life.

In 1873 Huberti painted a grisaille “The gust of wind” destined for the mantelpiece of his son Alphonse.

Huberti received only favorable reviews at a later age, as in “L’Art Universel” of 1 July 1873.

In 1874 he made a trip to France and joined the School of Barbizon.

He was invited in 1876 to become a member of the Hollandsche Teekenmaatschappij, a Dutch counterpart to the Brussels art circle Société Royale Belge des Aquarellistes.

At the end of his life he became increasingly melancholic and finally very depressed. In that period he painted still lives with flowers, often only one copy. However, these works lack originality and do not endure the comparison with its landscapes.