This portrait was for many years part of a private collection in Paris and so the general public had only rare occasions to enjoy it. Today, thanks to its purchase by the Heritage Fund, the work can be seen by everyone at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.
Camille Lemonnier dans l’atelier de l’artiste, by Alfred Stevens (1823-1906) has recently become part of the King Baudouin Foundation’s collection. The work has come from the prestigious collection of antique dealer André Fabius.
This portrait of the Belgian writer is part of a remarkable series of paintings that Stevens made of his own studio. Lemonnier’s portrait is widely quoted in the literature on Stevens, notably because Lemonnier was also part of a group and because the work presents numerous stylistic similarities with other studio scenes. Alfred Stevens portrays the author standing up, reading a book by the window of the artist’s studio, a studio that could serve as model for this type of interior at the end of the 19th century. This portrait also bears witness to a fascinating page in the history of art at the end of the 19th century and in particular to the numerous exchanges of artists and writers who travelled between Paris and Brussels.
Camille Lemonnier (1844-1913) was part of the Belgian literary elite that included Maurice Maeterlinck, Georges Rodenbach, Charles Van Lerberghe and Émile Verhaeren, all of whom enjoyed considerable renown in Europe and particularly in Paris. Like his contemporaries, Stevens had a particular interest in the visual and decorative arts. He developed amongst a circle of intellectuals that also included Alfred Stevens.