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Anna de Weert (Belgian painter) 1867 - 1950

From birth Anne Virginie Caroline Cogen grew up in a private civil middle-class environment. Drawing and watercolour painting was undoubtedly part of her education. Add to this that both her uncles Felix and Alfons Cogen were painters. The art-loving environment in which she grew up stimulated her in the direction of the fine arts, and at a young age she could attend private lessons from Ghent artists. She was interested in literature; from maternal side she was the granddaughter of Charles Louis Ledeganck. In 1891 she married the Ghent lawyer Maurice De Weert, who also was active as an essayist and journalist. Later De Weert became councilor and alderman of the city of Ghent. Through her marriage Anna Cogen took the name of her husband. Emile Claus she met after her marriage, and it was not until around 1893 until she began to follow his free lessons in Villa Zonneschijn in Astene, Claus' country house on the Lys. In 1896 she had their own spot in the Lys. Het Hof ter Neuve in Afsnee was not so far from Ghent, where in the Godshuizenstraat, as the wife of the dignitary she played a more mundane role. As an artist she made her debut at the Ghent salon from 1895, and until her death she would rarely miss at theBelgian salons. Internationally, she knew early international success; From 1910 she was a loyal corresponding member of the modernist Secession. De Weert diligently participated at exhibition life. She especially was active in the Ghent Cercle Artistique et Littéraire, where she repeatedly triumphed in small group exhibitions. De Weert was the driving force behind the creation of a luminist association. Already in 1903 she attempted to put together a group with Rodolphe Wytsman, which was however interrupted by Adrien-Joseph Heymans. George Morren had a similar idea, and together they managed to win Claus, Heymans and James Ensor for this idea; and in 1904 the circle Vie et Lumière was a fact. The war years she spent in Ghent, in the shadow of the world conflagration. Her husband was deported to Germany. The oppressive situation, however, did not rule out artistic progression. On the contrary, in the first individual exhibition she organized after the war she demonstrated great talent. For sure, the exhibition was a society event. The evening of the opening of her exhibition in the Brussels Cercle Artistique et Littéraire, reporters noted among others minister Edward Anseele, Albert Baertsoen, Emile Claus and "Directeur des Beaux-Arts' Paul Lambotte. For the catalog, she managed to snare Hippolyte Fierens-Gevaert, the renowned art critic and head curator of the Brussels Royal Museums of Art and History. De Weert loved to show large ensembles. In Brussels in March 1920, she exhibited 77 works, a few months later in Ghent, there were 103 paintings exhibited. In the 1920s, De Weert repeatedly stayed in Rome, where she walked for days through the gardens of the eternal city, around the Villa Medici and the Vatican. After the death of her husband in 1930 De Weert increasingly withdrew from public life. However, she performed regularly as conférencière, among others about Claus and her travels in the Mediterranean. Her last triumph she celebrated in January 1938, when the art circle of her hometown devoted a large retrospective to her. After her death, she bequeathed her art collection to the city, including the famous Portrait of Anna De Weert, which in 1899 Emile Claus painted for her. During and shortly after her Asten time Anna De Weert was clearly under the influence of Emile Claus. Thematically, she certainly followed the artist Claus: the Lys has a central place in her work. But her touch was more chaotic, more flake-like. Unlike Claus she applied the paint heavily and thicklly. Colouristicly seen her contrasts are more hard, and the hues more bright. Like with Jenny Montigny, colour was preferred to shape. In colouration, her symphonic colour poems are difficult to compare with the quiet, more subdued scenes of her master Emile Claus. Composition, nuance and perspective were not her first concern. The light strips all forms of materiality and on the contrarary fringes reality. Already at the turn of the century De Weert was considered an important Luminist. In 1904 the Antwerp magazine Kunst & Leven gave the following recognition of her work: "Her talent has come to mature development; she has found her way and she has given shape and colour to her fair unconsciousness as an independent artist, so that we will not forget her work. " Following the retrospective exhibition in January 1938 in the Ghent Cercle Artistique noted critic Frédéric De Smet wrote the following in the catalog: "With rare happiness I discovered her art, the finest, the most subtle hues in mist or lighting effects that this only place in Flanders can inspire and poetize; this Leyehoekje[close toTer Neuve in Astene] that she has reserved ". 

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