Henri ROBBE (Courtrai, 1807 – Bruxelles, 1899)
Birds, flowers and fruits
Oil on mahogany panel
Signed and dated (18)55 lower left
40 x 54 cm
Son of one of the leading lawyers of the city of Kortrijk under the Empire, Henri Robbe is one of the artists who had both a career as a musician and a painter.
After the discovery of Brussels, he moved to Paris in the early 1830s; for six years, he studied music with Rossini and was active as a lyrical singer. Back in Brussels in 1840, he quickly decided to devote himself to painting still lifes, essentially formed by his elder brother Louis (1806-1887), an animal artist close to Verboeckhoven, already famous and recognized. To distinguish the two artists, we call them “Louis the Beast” and “Henri the Flower” respectively.
Henri Robbe belongs to the generation that succeeds the Flemish painters of the Revolution and the Empire such as Jan Frans Van Dael (1764-1840) or Christian Van Pol (1752-1813), among whom we can mention Gustave Damis (1811- 1851) and Jean-Baptiste Robie (1821-1910). He is also close to the flower painters of the Lyons school, particularly Simon Saint-Jean (1808-1860), who has a notable influence, and with whom he also maintains friendly relations. Henri Robbe took part in several editions of the Lyon and Saint-Etienne Salons. Besides this, he exhibited three times at the Paris Salon (1853, 1855 and 1865) and at the Universal Exhibition of Paris of 1855; he received many medals and awards.
Rather specialized in the representation of flowers, he does not hesitate to also include in his compositions fruits, and sometimes, as in our table, birds.
With his shimmering and brilliant colors, and his precious finish, he is “one of those who most vividly renders dead things“, as one critic wrote at the Salon de Lyon in 1858; we also speak, rightly, of its fruits “of a flavor to excite the greed of the finest gourmets“.
Henri Robbe married in 1861. He is present in many museums, such as Brussels, Kortrijk, Ghent, Moscow and the Senate of Paris.