On this day in 1872, the great Flemish Symbolist painter Jan Frans De Boever was born. I don’t know much about him, even though he was very popular in his own time. He is probably best know for illustrating French Symbolist writer Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil). Both men were quite interested in the intersection of sex and death. Pretty much all of his work seems like the action is taking place in hell.
You can find a lot of his work online, mostly I think, because there are a lot of goth websites and his work goes along with that. But it’s surprising how little actual information there is about his work. As with my experience with Bernard Frouchtben, the art world is fickle. We know far too much about certain artists and not nearly enough about others. The Wikipedia page of De Boever makes three main points about him: he was arrogant, he became popular in the United States were I think he moved, and his work went out of favor toward the end of his life. That’s not a lot to say about a very productive artist who lived almost 78 years. Compare that master’s thesis Wikipedia provides on Vincent van Gogh.
Some of De Boever’s work shows a real sense of humor, although he was generally interest in the symbolism of his work—he was very interested in literature. I mostly just like the look of his work that is very distinctive. Here is Les Danaides. Danaides were from Greek mythology, “The daughters of Danaus, who at their father’s command murdered their bridegrooms on their wedding night and were condemned in Hades to pour water eternally into a leaky vessel:”
Happy birthday Jan Frans De Boever!