Contemporary, Modern Art and Old Masters

Auction 179 - 15 May 2021

Contemporary, Modern Art and Old Masters Lot 129

Frits Van den Berghe (Belgium / 1883 - 1939)
Sea shanty I (1926)


€ 80 000 - 100 000

Of this work, also called "De wandeling (The walk)", Frits Van den Berghe made a larger oil painting that same year. That work is currently part of the collection at the Foundation Hannema-de Stuers (NL).
Hugo van den Abeele (born in Latem in 1888) to whom the work was dedicated, was the son of painter Albijn van den Abeele and was, as his father, city clerck of Sint-Martens-Latem.
Deurle 1962
"Dibujos y acuarelas belgas" Museo de Bellas Artes, Santiago de Chili 1965, cat. nr. 42
"Art Belge contemporain" Teheran, Bagdad, Beiroet 1968
"Súcasné belgické umenie" Slovenskâ nârodnâ galéria, Bratislava; Praag 1969
Moderne Kunst, Gemeentekrediet
Belgisch Expressionisme, Leuven January 1970
"Expressionistische schilders van België" Universiteitshallen, Leuven 1970, cat. nr. 50
"Le Centaure" Gal. De Vuyst, Lokeren 1981
"Frits Van den Berghe 1883-1939. Catalogue raisonné de son oeuvre peint" Emile Langui, Éd. Laconti, Bruxelles 1966, cat. nr. 209 ill.
"Van Ensor tot Permeke" Albert Smeets, Ed. Lannoo, Tielt 1971, p. 186 ill.
"Frits Van den Berghe" Piet Boyens, wih catalogue raisonné by Patrick Derom & Gilles Marquenie, Pandora, Antwerp 1999, nr. 464 ill.
coll. Hugo van den Abeele, Deurle
auction Campo, Antwerp 1963, nr. 447
coll. Mme Jean Krebs, Brussels
Gal. De Vuyst, Lokeren 1984, acquired there by the current owner


Pictorial convention gives Van den Berghe the shivers. He seeks an outlet for his creative unrest and playful spirit. The use of gouache and watercolor allows a freer approach, breaking open overly rigorous and familiar compositions. This leads to a number of series he makes in the period 1924-26. These works on paper appear to be dynamic compositions in soft hues. They are surrealistic depictions balancing between fantasy and reality.

"Sailor's song I" can be seen in the unfinished "Adventures" series, which includes approximately five works. The artist is going out into the big, wide world. Like a globetrotter, he ventures into the unexplored territory of hallucinatory fantasies, walking between dream and nightmare. In the wings of splendid greenery he stumbles upon some charming females. Voluptuous curves, blooming chalices and a fluttering creature evoke their attraction.

But beware of these sirens. Like a bad omen, their bodies are tipping over whilst the rest of the composition remains upward. They want to lure you into the darkness in the background. Suddenly, the foliage turns out to be an all-consuming jungle harboring monstrous flowers and dark figures lurking in the dark. We risk disappearing into the abyss of Van den Berghe's fantasies. The artist depicts the dark side of the human psyche.

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