Cupid (love) nurtured by Hope
- Time (Chronos) clipping Cupid's Wings
A pupil of Charles Ykens and Balthazar Beschey, he was appointed professor at the Academy of his hometown in 1763. He reacted against the art of the 18th century taught at the Academy: in favor of a reform of the painting in Flanders, he adheres to classical traditions and draws inspiration from Raphael and the Renaissance masters, studied during his stay in Italy after being appointed painter to Charles of Lorraine. He was particularly interested in the discoveries of Pompeii (Colas, Bibliographie du costume, 1828).
Lens will be noticed by its interventions to free the painters, and more particularly the direction of the teaching of arts, from the authoritarian tutelage of the all-powerful gild of Saint-Luc. After a long and stormy conflict (Lens tenders his resignation to the Minister Count of Cobenzl who refuses it, then sends a damning and at the same time moving anonymous memoir on the decadence of the Antwerp school and the humiliating situation of the artistic body), the views of Lens end up being heard. Empress Maria Theresa of Austria issued an ordinance to this effect on March 20, 1773: artists were freed from the jurisdiction of trades, free to perform where and how they pleased, to train students, etc. Moreover, it is proclaimed that, throughout the limits of the Netherlands, the exercise of artistic professions ceases to derogate from nobility.
When he came to the "Belgian provinces" in 1781, the son of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, Emperor Joseph II, in search of artists, wanted to take Lens to Vienna, but the painter refuses it. Recently settled in Brussels, he wishes to get married and settle there permanently. He trained many students there, and... orders poured in. He was thus commissioned by the new governor, Albert of Saxe-Teschen, to decorate the apartments of his Schoonenberg residence, completed in 1784.
Esteemed in the world of the arts, he became a corresponding member of the Institut de France and was part of Freemasonry.
In 1803, he was one of the founding members of the Society of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture of Brussels, of which he would be president.
Lens is also known for its treatises. He wrote several works of theory in which he sets out his ideas on painting: Le Costume, Essay on the clothing and customs of several peoples of antiquity proven by monuments, with figures (Liège, 1776) and Du Bon Goût et of the Beauty of Painting considered in all its parts (1811).
To get a personal idea of the works of André Corneille Lens, nothing beats the experience of a visit to the places where they are exhibited. These works can be seen in Ghent (The Annunciation at Saint Michael's Church), at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp (Annunciation, portrait of the former director of the Antwerp Academy, the engraver Martenasie, and Hercule protecting Painting against Ignorance and Jealousy (1763), in Lille (several paintings in the Sainte Marie-Madeleine church), as well as in Vienna and England.
42 000 €