Henri Evenepoel (1872 Nice - 1899 Paris)
Oil on canvas ; monogrammed "h e" at the lower left ; 46.5 cm x 55.5 cm
Brussels, Georges Giroux gallery ; Brussels, Prosper Wielemans collection, then by descent ; Amsterdam, Christie's, 7th June 2016.
Eric Min, Henri Evenepoel (1872-1899). Een schilder in Parijs, Brussels, 2016.
Henri Evenepoel shares more than a first name with Henri Matisse, who became his closest friend in Gustave Moreau's studio. Coming respectively from Brussels and Cateau-Cambrésis to take part in the artistic effervescence of the "Paris fin de siècle", they discovered the power of light in the south, and consequently the primacy of color, the first in Algeria during the winter of 1897-1898, the second in Corsica in spring 1898. But Evenepoel, in poor health, died the following year.
He returned from Algeria to Paris in May 1898 and then, from July to September, stayed with an aunt in Wépion, near Namur. It is probably there, on the banks of the Meuse, he painted this picture "fresh, full of life, of colors", the words of the art critic Pierre Courthion when he evoked, in 1941, in an interview with Henri Matisse, the artist prematurely deceased (Bavardages : les entretiens égarés, Paris, 2017).
Owned, since before 1932, by the Wielemans family, a dynasty of brewers who also owned the mythical Hôtel Métropole in Brussels, the painting only reappeared in 2016.