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Herbo Léon

Templeuve 1850 – 1907 Ixelles

Belgian Painter

Oriental Woman with Fruits and Flowers

Signature: Signed lower left
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Image size 75,5 x 99,5 cm, frame size 111,5 x 135 cm

Herbo Léon, born on October 8, 1850, in Templeuve, was a renowned Belgian painter celebrated for his captivating portraits of women in relaxed settings, as well as his skillful renderings of actors and actresses. His artistry extended to genre scenes, often infused with Orientalist themes, and his wife frequently served as his muse.

His artistic journey began at the Académie des beaux-arts de Tournai under the guidance of Léonce Legendre, the Director of the Academy. Subsequently, he further honed his skills at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels from 1869 to 1874, achieving the top ranking in the preparatory competition for the Prix de Rome. Following extensive travels through Germany, Italy, and France, he eventually settled in Brussels.

In 1875, Léon Herbo marked his formal debut at the Salon van Brussel, continuing to showcase his work there until the close of the century. In 1876, he co-founded “L’Essor,” a progressive group challenging the conservative norms of the Academies.

His exhibitions extended beyond Belgium, encompassing showings in Paris, at the Salon, as well as in Munich and Berlin. His notable achievements include an honorable mention at the Exposition Universelle in 1889. During the same year, he collaborated with the animal painter Alexandre Clarys on a monumental canvas depicting Queen Marie Henriette’s encounter with the military squadron named after her.

Known for his prolific output, Herbo crafted numerous works for commercial purposes, designed for reproduction through chromolithography or porcelain decoration. Notably, he gained acclaim as a portrait painter, offering fixed-price portraits with a guaranteed likeness. His reputation was such that he was often sought for posthumous portraits. A striking example is the portrait of the late Crown Prince of Belgium, Léopold Ferdinand, Count of Hainaut, commissioned by Queen Marie-Henriette.

Léon Herbo passed away on June 19, 1907, in Ixelle. While the majority of his paintings reside in private collections, some are on display at prestigious institutions such as the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, the Museum of Painting and Sculpture in Kortrijk, and the Musée des Beaux-Arts Tournai.

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