Around 1800, Tilburg-born artists Gerard (1746-1822) and Cornelis (1756-1839) van Spaendonck became world-famous in Paris. Who are these brothers, and what made them so popular?
Two brothers from a Tilburg family of five children. Almost a ten-year age gap between them, but both exceptionally creative. For Gerard and Cornelis there was only one thing for it: pack up and head for Antwerp, to learn how to paint with Willem Jacob Herreyns (1743-1827). Gerard was the first to leave, followed a few years later by Cornelis.
Fanatical about flowers
The brothers specialized in flower painting and, after completing their studies, moved to Paris: the centre of the cultural world. It so happened that floral still lifes were hugely popular in the metropolis at that time, enabling Gerard to quickly establish an impressive career. In 1776, King Louis XVI appointed him royal miniature painter of flowers, he became a member of the Académie Royale and of the Institut de France, and was made director of the Jardin des Plantes. Meanwhile, his brother Cornelis briefly became artistic director of the porcelain factory in Sèvres.
The changes of government during the French revolution of 1789 had little impact on the brothers' careers. In fact, Gerard's work also appealed to the new ruler. In 1804, he was awarded the Légion d’honneur by Napoleon. In the years that followed, the brothers amassed a substantial fortune which, after their death, came into the hands of their family in Tilburg, and was used to found the Van Spaendonck family textile factories.
At the museum
Want to see the work of Gerard and Cornelis van Spaendonck 'in the flesh'? The collection of Het Noordbrabants Museum contains 34 works by the brothers, including this Cabbage Rose by Cornelis van Spaendonck. As well as paintings, there are original drawings, miniatures on snuff-boxes, and a large number of botanical prints in our collection. Currently, one painting and two snuff-boxes are on show at the museum.
|Artist||Cornelis van Spaendonck|
|Material||Oil, marble, panel|
|Size||21,9 x 25,8 cm|
|Creditline||Acquired with support from Mr and Mrs Willekens-Kooloos, the VriendenLoterij, the Purchase Fund of the Rembrandt Association and the SNS REAAL Fund|