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Title A Belgian School
Collection Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Artist Braekeleer, Ferdinand de, I (Belgian artist, 1792-1883)
Date 1853 (dated)
Signed yes
Description A school room with teacher and children. A woman sits at a desk instructing a boy of approximately 10 years of age in the alphabet. She is a large, fierce looking woman with huge hands. She holds a bunch of sticks tied in a bundle ready to strike her pupils. The boy leans over her desk to see the letters. He wears a red jacket and wooden clogs. A blond haired boy sits on the floor weeping, his slate beside him - having already had his turn with the teacher. At a desk behind him sit two girls and a boy. The girl on the left writes on her slate. The other to the right has a book in her lap but looks towards the tearful boy sitting on the floor. The boy sitting between them behind them writes with a quill pen on paper leaning on the desk, ink pot next to him. Paper and books are stacked and on the floor. A window to the left hand side behind the teacher gives a glimpse of sky and trees, under which a large cat sleeps on a bench. On the floor is a kite. A lantern hangs from the wooden rafters. A coloured statue of the Virgin and child rests on a stand on a wooden cupboard to the right. A general sense of disarray and confusion in this school room. The statue of the Virgin and Child suggests that the harsh ethos of Catholic schools does not encourage learning but, rather, authoritarianism and chaos.
Current Accession Number OP536
Inscription front ll 'Ferdinand de Braekeleer Antwerpen 1853'
Subject everyday life
Measurements 51 x 43 cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Lutz 1899.
Notes Chalk mark on the back. Braekeleer was a pupil of the Antwerp Academy and Van Bree. He was a member of the Belgian Academy.

Possibly the painting exhibited as The Village School in Ernest Gambart's ninth annual exhibition of modern French and Belgian pictures in 1862, no.15 (information kindly provided by Martin Hopkinson 2012).

Rights Owner Courtesy of Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Author Dr Patricia Smyth




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