(Belgian, Elsene 1862-1945 Grimbergen)

The Wassenaar dunes (1903)

Oil painting on canvas 19.7 x 39.4 in. (50 x 100 cm.)


Provenance: Private Collection, Belgium


The Artist

Guillaume-Charles-Liévin (Willem) Delsaux began with law studies, but after a year he gave it up. He chose for an artistic career and followed a training in decorative painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels from 1878 to 1880. There he was taught, amongst others, by the landscape painter Joseph Quinaux. Delsaux couldn’t adjust to the academic conventions and his education didn’t last very long.

Following this initiation period, he went to live and work independently in Brussels. He stayed for a while with Henry de Groux and William de Gouve de Nuncques. During that time he organized several individual exhibitions.

In 1907 he settled in Bouffioulx and started a pottery. He adapted the old techniques and methods of the region to his own creations. Other Belgian artists of that period were active as ceramists: Roger Guerin, Arthur Cracco, Omer Coppens and Willy Finch.

By 1911 he founded the ‘Poterie de l'Escarboucle’, but the war thwarted the operation of his company.

Delsaux became a teacher at the ‘Université du Travail’ in Charleroi where he taught decorative arts, drawing, painting and ceramics. After the war he settled back around Brussels where he died in Grimbergen in 1945.

He was a member of the artists' associations L'Essor, Les Independants, L'Estampe and L'Union des Arts.

Willem Delsaux mainly painted seascapes and landscapes. He was also an etcher, lithographer and sculptor. The regions and sites he visited and portrayed were: Brussels and surrounding areas, Doel and Antwerp polders, Zeeland (including Viane), the Kempen, Sint-Truiden, Bouffioulx, the basin of the Sambre, Sart-Eustache in Fosse and Charleroi.

The Belgian writer and art critic Emile Verhaeren (1855-1916) praised him for his qualities as a landscape painter, his unusually free painting style and the ease with which he knows how to find the appropriate and luminous tonality.

His work is represented in museums in Tournai, Mons, Charleroi and the ‘Stedelijk Museum’ in Mechelen, including two canvases in the Council Chamber of the town of Heist (Knokke-Heist).

At the "Impressionists in Knocke and Heyst ' exhibition (2007) a painting named "De Sluizen van Heyst” has been displayed including also charcoal drawings of Heist fishing boats. More recently, at the exhibition "Van het Atelier naar de Kust” (2012), a gouache titled “Boten op het strand” (Heyst 1900) was on display. This reveals the fact that that Delsaux remained regularly in the area of Heist and surroundings.


A. Eggermont, "Willem Delsaux", in Le Thyrse, November 1945
"Les artistes Schaerbeekois", revue, 21 April 1917
"Le dictionnaire des peintres belges du XIV° siècle à nos jours", Brussel, 1995
P. Piron, "De Belgische beeldende kunstenaars uit de 19de en 20ste eeuw", Brussel, 1999
W & G. Pas, "Biografisch Lexicon Plastische Kunst in België. Schilders- beeldhouwers – grafici 1830-2000", Antwerpen, 2000
Gh. Potvlieghe, "Kunstschilder Willem Delsaux", in Nieuwsbrief Eigen Schoon Grimbergen,2006-1.