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Mortelmans Frans

Antwerp 1865 – 1936

Belgian Painter

A King of Flowers

Signature: Signed bottom right and placed Antwerp
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Image size 81 x 51 cm, frame size 103 x 74 cm

Mortelmans Frans was a versatile artist known for his paintings encompassing still lifes, flowers, fruits, landscapes, house interiors, marine views, beach scenes, and portraits. He was also recognized as an accomplished aquarellist and pastellist. Born in Antwerp on May 1, 1865, Frans was the elder brother of the renowned Flemish composer-conductor Lodewijk Mortelmans (1868-1952).

Frans spent his formative years in the popular Saint Paul’s parish neighborhood and received his education at the Fine Arts Academy of Antwerp. His mentors included prominent figures such as Edward Dujardin, J.E. Van den Bussche, P. Beaufaux, E. Siberdt, J. Geefs, Albrecht De Vriendt, Karel Verlat, and notably Lucas Schaefels.

Initiating his studies in 1876, Frans was among a group of talented peers, including Charles Mertens, Jozef Van Leemputten, Everaard Chappel, Henry Luyten, Josef Dore, Jan Rosier, Evert Larock, Jozef Ratinckx, Piet Van Engelen, and Arthur Pierre. He continued his artistic education at the Higher Institute of Fine Arts in Antwerp, studying under Juliaan De Vriendt and Frans van Leemputten.

Frans Mortelmans actively promoted his art by participating in various exhibitions with fellow artists. Notable among these were the Triennial Salons of Ghent, Antwerp, and Brussels. He also held solo exhibitions at the Verlat, Lamorinière, and Wijnen galleries in Antwerp. Additionally, he took part in group exhibitions organized by cultural associations in Antwerp, such as Arte et Labore and De Scalden, as well as those in Mechelen, De Hulst, and De Distel (1906-1907). The Antwerp cultural association De Scalden, founded in 1889 by sculptor-engraver Jules Baetes, played a pivotal role in Mortelmans’ life, fostering artistic renewal and diversification.

In 1910, Frans Mortelmans was appointed as a professor of still-life painting at the Art Academy in Antwerp. Among his notable students were Antoon Marstboom, Franck Mortelmans, and Joris Minne.

Mortelmans’ early works featured arrangements with a variety of objects, painted in a rigid style. However, his style evolved over time, displaying great virtuosity and elegance with a rich palette, avoiding canvas overloading. His art was generally decorative, characterized by a pursuit of harmony. Since 1892, working in his personal studio, he predominantly painted in a realistic style, gradually incorporating impressionistic touches.

Frans Mortelmans excelled in the domain of still life painting, contributing to the vigorous artistic tradition in Antwerp. Notable contemporaries in this genre included Willem Linnig jr., Lucas Schaefels, and his pupil Jozef Van de Roye, along with Eugeen Joors, Edouard Chappel, Hendrik De Braekeleer, and the French painter Marie-Antoinette Marcotte, who lived in Antwerp.

Frans Mortelmans passed away on April 11, 1936, in Antwerp.

Today, Mortelmans’ artworks can be found in numerous private collections worldwide. Several museums house a significant collection of his paintings, including the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, the Antwerp Town Hall, the Museum of Flemish Cultural Life, the new Museum of Ostend Mu-zee, the Museum of Kortrijk, the Hof van Busleiden museum in Mechelen, and the Joselyn Art Museum in Omaha, USA.

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