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Clays Paul Jean

Bruges 1819 – 1900 Brussels

Belgian Painter

Full Speed Ahead

Signature: Signed lower right and dated 1858
Medium: Aquarelle
Dimensions: Image size 49 x 68,5 cm, frame size 71 x 91 cm

Clays Paul Jean Charles was born on November 20, 1819, in Bruges, Belgium, and departing this world on March 9, 1900, in Brussels. Paul-Jean Clays, also known as Jean-Paul, unfurled his artistry as a maritime painter of paramount significance during his era.

Raised by a tax inspector father and linked to Ferdinand Khnopff through his mother Anna-Josepha Khnopff, Clays intertwined his life with Marie Issure Quetelet, daughter of the esteemed scientist Adolphe Quetelet, nurturing a family of four.

From his earliest days, the sea’s allure captivated Clays, guiding his aspirations toward sailing. Redirected to boarding school in Boulogne, he ardently pursued maritime knowledge, later becoming a cabin boy on a coastal cruiser.

Returning to Bruges, Clays etched his nautical impressions into drawings. His mastery over oil painting flourished after studies under Horace Vernet and Theodore Gudin in Paris.

Clays showcased his prowess in scintillating seascapes at the Brussels Salon in 1839, gaining acclaim at the Antwerp Exhibition the following year. Embarking on maritime journeys, he painted his experiences, and his reputation as a seascape virtuoso blossomed in 1860.

Notable among his works is “Antwerp Roadstead,” unveiled in 1869, gracing the Brussels Exhibition. Honors and accolades adorned Clays, including prestigious appointments and medals.

Today, Paul-Jean Clays’ oeuvre finds sanctuary in illustrious collections spanning the globe, gracing the halls of distinction. Among them, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, the National Maritime Museum in Antwerp, the Groeninge Museum in Bruges, and the resplendent Town Hall of Bruges stand as sentinels to his genius. The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Brussels, the resplendent Fine Arts Museum in Ghent, the ethereal Fine Arts Museum in Liege, and the venerable Curtius Museum bear his legacy on Belgian soil, while across the seas, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and the National Museum in London, as well as the New York Maritime Museum, extend his maritime poetry to distant shores.

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