Oil on panel; 9 ½ by 7 ½ in; 24 x 19 cm; in a period wood frame
Provenance: Private Collection, Belgium
Little is known of the Dutch artist Dehoy but this insightful portrait clearly shows that he was a painter of considerable talent. Influenced by the French Romantic artists, this characterful and energetic study shows an obvious debt to the work of Delacroix. And like Delacroix he is known to have painted both portraits and history scenes.
Romanticism, first defined as an aesthetic in literary criticism around 1800, gained momentum as an artistic movement in France and Britain in the early decades of the nineteenth century and flourished well in to mid-century. With its emphasis on the imagination and emotion, Romanticism emerged as a response to the disillusionment with the Enlightenment values of reason and order in the aftermath of the French Revolution of 1789.
Traditionally, records of individual likeness, portraits became vehicles for expressing a range of psychological and emotional states in the hands of Romantic painters. Both Gericault and Delacroix were great exponents of this approach, widely influencing a whole generation of artists. Dehoy, inturn, appears to inject an intense energy in to this portrait of his friend Vanmoor, the composition exhibiting an intimacy and overall feeling of restlessness, marked out by the quick brush strokes and vibrant spontaneity.
In its stylistic diversity and range of subjects, Romanticism defies simple categorization. As the poet and critic Charles Baudelaire wrote in 1846, “Romanticism is precisely situated neither in choice of subject nor in exact truth, but in a way of feeling.”