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Victor Rousseau

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Victor Rousseau was born in Feluy on December 15, 1865, at the place called “La Sonnette.”  He came from a family of stone cutters.

 

His parents were Emile Rousseau and Philomène Duquesnes.

 

He began cutting stones as a child, and at 11 years of age, he was sent to Brussels to work on the construction of the Palace of Justice, under the direction of the architect Poelaert.  He worked as a stone cutter for 7 years.  His artisanal itinerary is reminiscent of Rodin’s.

 

Rousseau later joined the workshop of a decorative sculptor, George Hanstout, while concurrently taking classes at the Academy of Fine Arts.

 

On Sundays, he would go to the Theater of la Monnaie to watch the opera.  Wagner and Beethoven would leave an indelible influence on his sensitivity and here he acquired the sense of dance so present in his future works.

 

In 1890, he presented “Tourment de la pensée” (Tourment of thought) at the Godecharle competition and brought home the prize, which allowed him to set out on trips to England, France and Italy to study the masterpieces of the past.  He would spend two years in Paris and several months in Florence.  In France, he participated in the adventure of Art Nouveau.  His teacher at the time was Charles van der Stappen (1843-1910).

 

In 1894, he returned to Belgium and his career took off.  For 50 years, he would deliver works of great feeling, inspired by the Hellenic style.  Richard Dupierreux (of the Academy of Fine Arts) would say: “He is a sculptor of souls.”

In 1900, he worked at the World’s Fair of Paris.

He was linked to the Symbolism and Art Nouveau scenes and collaborated with V. Horta.

 

Here are the milestones of his biography:

 

1879-1880: design course at the Academy of Brussels and at the design school of St. Josse.

1884: modeling course with Georges Hanstout

1887-1889: study of statuary with Charles van der Stappen

1890: he obtains the Godecharle Prize

1901-1919: professor of sculpture at the Brussels Academy of Fine Arts

1909: member of the Brussels Academy of Fine Arts

1911: Grand Prize of Sculpture of Rome

1914-1919: numerous exhibitions at Brussels, London, Madrid and the U.S.  At this time, he lives in England.  There, he creates “Memorial in Gratitude” (1917-1920, London, Thames embarkation)

1919-1922 and 1931-1935: director of the Brussels Academy of Fine Arts

1933: retrospective of his work at the Brussels Palace of Fine Arts

1935: Prize of the Friends of Hainaut, book “Renommée” in Heysel

1945: retrospective at the Galerie Giroux in Brussels

1947: retrospective at the municipal hotel of Forest.

1935-1953: he writes his memoirs, “Country pictures from my childhood,” as well as numerous “Notes” and over 300 poems.

He was also a member of the French Institute and a knight of the order of Leopold.

His works are notably present:

 

·        In the Senate

·        At the Royal Fine Arts Museum

·        At the cemetery of La Louvière

·        At the Brussels Museum (“Bust of Constantin Meunier” (marble), “Souvenir” (“Memory”) (bronze),…)

·        In the Antwerp Muesum (“L’enfant accroupi” (“The crouching child”) (marble), “To Beethoven” (bronze),…)

·        At the Château de Mariemont (“Vers la vie” (“Towards life”) in the courtyard of the old château)

·        At the Brussels Grand-Place, two statues of the Maison des boulangers (House of the bakers) (1898), the Maison de l’Etoile (House of the Star) (1899), as well as a plaque honoring Charles Buls

·        At Liège, where he undertook the statuary decoration of the Pont de Fragnée

·        At the Brussels Cinquantenaire where he created the statue decorating the attic of the monumental arcade

·        In museums in Berlin, Vienna, Copenhagen, and Glasgow.

 

 

Victor Rousseau died in his home in Forest on March 17, 1954.

A street in Feluy bears his name.

 

 
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