Works of Roger Somville

The work of Roger Somville, the famous Belgian artist who spearheaded the Realist movement, has now been safeguarded for the future and made accessible to the general public. His heirs have donated 15 of his works to the King Baudouin Foundation.

The family of Roger Somville (1923-2014) has donated fifteen important works of this Belgian artist to the King Baudouin Foundation in an effort to protect them and make the heritage of one of the leading Belgian representatives of the Realist movement accessible to the general public. In so doing, the artist’s children, Claire and Marc Somville, have realized a dear wish of their mother, the ceramic artist Simone Somville Tits.

Roger Somville was a committed artist and fervent defender of Realism, a form of art in direct contact with real life. Often monumental in nature, his creations reflected reality, history, society and the human being. He created a special universe, focusing on mankind and often represented by characters with a dreamy look, which developed towards a more abstract universe.

Somville’s large mural frescoes, such as Notre temps (Our age) in the Hankar metro station, are particularly significant. Two preparatory canvasses for this work - La manifestante (the Demostrator) and Baigneuses de nuit (Night Bathers) – were bequested to the Foundation and these have already been entrusted to the communes of Waterloo and Etterbeek. The remaining works, which had previously been entrusted by the artist in long-term loan to several communes and one institution, will remain on show there. 

The collection of works entrusted to the Foundation constitute a good example of Somville’s work and reflect the various themes he painted. These include mankind in general, workmen, (political) demonstrators, his wife and muse, smokers in cafés (Sans titre – Fumeurs Untitled – Smokers), as well as political and social problems (Pluie acide – Acid Rain), and war (Nouvelles à Ostende – News in Ostend). War was a recurrent subject in Somville’s œuvre because he had begun life as an artist on the eve of World War II and it was to have a long-lasting influence on both his life and his work. 

In addition to providing an overview of the different periods of Somville’s career (from 1958 to 2000), these fifteen works give a precise picture of the various techniques he used: oil, acrylic, Indian ink and pastel. The donation also includes two ceramic dishes. Somville had in fact collaborated with his wife to create the Céramique de Dour studio in 1951. In parallel to his painting, Somville also created tapestries and numerous mural frescoes. Moreover, from 1946 he founded, together with Edmond Dubrunfaut and Louis Deltour, the Centre de Rénovation de la Tapisserie de Tournai (The Tournai Tapestry Renovation Centre), whilst also being a member of the Forces Murales group.