Monday, April 13, 2020

Pierre Olivier Joseph Coomans: Gifted Belgian artist of the Neo-Pompeian genre

As often happens, when I was looking for images to illustrate my Ancient Wisdom post yesterday and came across that endearing painting of a little boy frightening his little brother with a Roman tragic mask by Belgian painter Pierre Olivier Joseph Coomans, I noticed that despite his prolific body of work, Coomans did not have a biography on English Wikipedia so I spent all day yesterday and this morning researching and writing a biography for him including a gallery of his work. I discovered he had a very eventful life. His work was already exhibition quality by the time he was 16 years old. After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, he was commissioned by Queen Marie-Louise to accompany Marshal Thomas-Robert Bugeaud to Algeria where he spent several years as a military painter. Then he was dispatched to the Crimean War serving on the staff of General Aimable PĂ©lissier. He eventually contracted cholera on the battlefield and went to Greece, Turkey, and Italy to recuperate. He wound up moving to Naples in 1860 and became enthralled by the excavations taking place in Pompeii and from that point on concentrated his talents on depictions of ancient Roman life.
I found and added another eight more images to his works on Wikimedia Commons. I just wish I could have found more of his earlier historical paintings.
So here's today's "hot off the press" biography with a gallery of Pierre Olivier Joseph Coomans' paintings (I even had to translate one of the main sources from French first!) The painting below is "Last Hours of Pompeii in the House of the Poet" painted in 1869. It brought over 60,000 Euros in a recent auction.

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