Brussels 1873 - Ixelles 1956

Large and elegant Art Nouveau masterpiece depicting an allegorical dancer. A young red head lady is standing full-length in a dancing pose, dressed with a delicate see-through white gown with embroidered dragonflies on the bottom. She wears a headband with red roses and ribbons and holds ribbon festooned bars in her hands. She stands in a garden with a little temple in the back, to her right, a incense burner with rams heads is smoking. Pink and yellow roses suspending from arches finish the composition. Scrollwork on top and on the bottom. This is an absolute Liberty masterpiece by Fernand Toussaint. Oil on canvas. Signed left bottom.

Size: H 230 cm x W 92cm

Belgian School, circa 1910.

Lit: The story of this fantastic painting is quiet fascinating. It was actually part of an ensemble of at least 10 allegories that decorated the walls of the Picture Pavilion Theatre of Blackpool, England. The story begins in 1899, when the magnificent “Alhambra” opens to the public in Blackpool (coastal city above Liverpool). It is a seafront entertaining centre that will quickly face economic problems. It will then be redesigned by the famous Theatre architect Frank Matcham and will reopen as “the Palace” Complex in 1904. The Palace Picture Pavilion was a later addition, opening in 1911 and becoming a major cinema. Each column of the arches on the balcony level was decorated with an allegory such as this one. (as seen on old pastcard and picture). Mr Matcham may have order them to Toussaint, probably in Paris at that time. Sadly, the Palace with his theatre and ballroom, was destructed in 1958.

Fernand Toussaint, born in 1873 in Brussels, was a painter and watercolourist of women, flowers, landscapes seascapes and interior scenes. Pupil of J. Portaels at the Brussels Academy, he leaves for Paris at age 18 and will be advised by A. Stevens. He is the painter of the feminine beauty. The biography of Fernand Toussaint doesn’t mention a stay in England, but confirms his admiration for the British school of painting. This type of oeuvre is very rare, emanating from his early years. He then will detach from the Art Nouveau style and evolve to a more post-impressionist style. Works in the 'Vleeshuis' museum in Antwerp, in the museum of Ixelles & in the 'Charlier' museum in Brussels.