Valerius De Saedeleer

Aalst 1867 – 1941 Leupegem

When Valerius Saedeleer settled in Sint-Martens-Latem in 1898, he was, as a young artist, not quite sure where to go with his painting. The smoothly painted natural landscapes with the impressionistic brushwork of his master Frans Courtens were certainly deserving, but the Saedeleer was looking for something different, something personal. In Sint-Martens-Latem he could reorientate himself in an artistic environment, in which also sculptor George Minne and painter Gustave Van de Woestyne had come to settle. He was attracted to the unspoiled nature, the diversity of the landscape and the frugal, simple life.

Until 1903, the work of Valerius De Saedeleer clearly evidences the influence of Frans Courtens. It is not until 1904 that he will start making highly personal interpretations of the landscape. At a time when Impressionism experienced its last flourishing period, Fauvism and Cubism became popular in France and a number of artists introduced expressionism as a new style in Germany, Valerius De Saedeleer realises classical landscapes with a very thoughtful composition, a smooth texture and a meticulous execution. His coming into contact with the Flemish Primitives in a major exhibition in Bruges in 1902 is commonly referred to as the reason for the sudden change in the work of De Saedeleer. He will from then on pay great attention to the artisanal perfection of his work, and become part, in this way, of the Flemish painting tradition. Following the example of the Primitives, he shuns any form of improvisation and leaves nothing to chance.

Around 1907-1908, he paints several landscapes with leafless trees in the foreground. These calligraphically elaborate branches will become a typical trademark for the artist. At that time he also realises various series depicting the smithy and the Temple Farm in different seasons. In 1908, Valerius Saedeleer moves with his family to Tiegem in the Flemish Ardennes. The flat landscape of the Lys landscape gives way to a panorama of hills and valleys. After a stay in Wales during World War I, he settles back in the Flemish Ardennes, this time in Etikhove, where he will live until a few years before his death.