The sculpture "La Jalousie" (Jealousy) is an ivory sculpture on an onyx base. Jealousy is represented as a young girl who is jealous of the attention the newborn receives from her mother. The little girl, on her toes, pulls her mother's arm to show her presence while the little brother is sitting on his mother’s knees.
Alfons Van Beurden (1854 Belgium – 1938) :
It was already clear to the twelve-year-old boy Alfons Van Beurden that sculpture was his destination. Even before his training at the Antwerp Academy began (1868) he had been learning woodwork for two years at the Goemans firm, where his father had good connections. Dedication and diligence guaranteed a quick development which had already earned Van Beurden the first prize in sculpture in 1874. There would be others, including awards for drawing. Van Beurden fathered a son who was also named Alfons, and later made a name as a painter. It is likely that the 25 year-old sculptor participated in his first exhibition in 1879: he presented three plaster sculptures at the Triannual Salon of Antwerp. Their titles La toilette (the ablution), Pas d’accord (not agreed), Portret van Mme C.B. (Portrait of Mrs C.B.) turned out to herald the entire oeuvre Alfons Van Beurden would produce during his career of more than sixty years.
Plaster as a material was soon replaced by terracotta (1891) and marble (1882). It was only in 1885 that he exhibited his first bronze sculptures, with the kind of titles that are typically associated with the artist, such as Eveillée trop tôt (Awoken too soon) and La leçon (The Lesson). Another five years later, Van Beurden would also establish himself as a carver of ivory with sculptures like Fantasy, Cupid, Bacchante and many similar themes he would continue to produce until his death. He came to fame because of two projects for which he wasn’t commissioned but his slightly older fellow citizen Frans Joris (1851-1914) was: a statue of the elderly Hendrik Conscience (1812-1883) and, a bit later, the sumptuous grave of that same author. In later years he did receive some major commissions: both inside and on the brand new Antwerp Museum magnificent monumental work of his can still be admired today. The Town Hall also contains striking bronzes bearing his signature.
But the absolute central theme of his art is situated in the domain of the so-called bourgeois art of the salon. In the perfect representation of naked youths, women and especially small children, Alfons Van Beurden excelled like no other. His handling of material, his technical abilities and his anatomical knowledge generate amazement and respect to this day. Van Beurden clearly preferred charm to drama, and loved the mischief and the unexpected reactions of his models that he was able to convey in terracotta, marble or bronze, always with a high degree of verisimilitude. Van Beurden’s qualities were not only appreciated in his home country of Belgium: he was recognized with countless foreign awards, as far afield as Australia. Collectors from Liverpool and London followed him after the artist had celebrated exhibitions in these cities.
In his own country the sculptor was also very much appreciated as a portraitist. Preferring to work in marble, he realized countless sober, realistic busts. When in 1884 Van Beurden became a member of the Antwerp art circle referred to as Als Ick Kan (If I Can) (but officially known as Union Artistique des Jeunes) he portrayed all of its members. The president Jan-Willem Rosier (1858-1931) made a painting of the artist himself at work in his studio. He also posed for the younger painter Julien Creytens (1897-1972). Van Beurden’s artistic output is impressive. From the long list of exhibitions in which he participated and the even longer list of auctions – even today – in which works he made were offered for sale, it can be deduced that a productive life in the extreme typified and graced this affable artist’s life.
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