The Suitors by Evariste Carpentier


Oil on canvas

39 x 52 in. 

Framed dimensions: 54 ¾ x 67 ½ in. 

Signed lower left

c. 1875

Évariste Carpentier‘s works range from luminist landscapes to historical realism and, as in this painting, intensely personal genre scenes. After living abroad and with great commercial success in Paris, Carpentier injured his leg, and was told by doctors that, without bed rest, amputation would be necessary. He subsequently spent two years living in his childhood home with his grandmother (far left) and sister (center). Over two years, Carpentier painted over 20 scenes from their upbringing and everyday life together as adults. This is the interior of the family kitchen. The now-grown sister is peeling potatoes as two suitors shyly enter the room; one with a bouquet of flowers and the other returning from a hunt. The house cat and visiting hunting dog — a not so subtle double entendre — fight. Startled by the unexpected guests, the blind grandmother instinctively reaches for the young girl, her caretaker. The painting is a masterful narrative, exploring the ideas of youth, old age, obligations, and opportunity. It is also a tour-de-force of painterly observation. The figures, the still life elements, the colors ... all work together to convincingly draw our eyes across the narrative with curiosity, rather than distraction.

Évariste Carpentier, (1845 - 1922), was a Belgian painter of genre scenes and animated landscapes whose aesthetic evolved from academic conventions to work embedded with an impressionistic stroke. Évariste Carpentier was a student at the Academy of Fine Arts of Courtrai in 1861, under the direction of Henri De Pratere. In 1864, Carpentier was enrolled at the Antwerp Academy where he earned an award of excellence. He began his career painting religious topics, themes of the Antiquity and scenes inspired by the Dutch seventeenth century, but it is his historical works for which he gained public appreciation. In the 1880s, Carpentier turned to impressionism and his initial works, which had been produced with darker, thicker strokes, gave way to a noticeably brighter palette and progressively lighter brushstrokes. In the 1890s, he turned to delicate tones and atmospheric touches, becoming one of the most active representatives of luminism in Belgium. Carpentier taught at the Liège Academy and was its director until his death.

Private French Collection, purchased from the artist, thence by descent. 

Signed lower left