29. Gilles-François Closson, attributed to

Liège 1796 – 1842 Liège

A Cluster of Trees

Painted quickly yet with an assured hand, this study of a dense cluster of trees is attributed to Gilles-François Closson. Characteristically for the artist, a large area of the sheet is left unfinished, which emphasizes that his focus was on a specific range of vision, omitting what is peripheral to the selected motif. Now considered one of the foremost Belgian landscape painters of the nineteenth century, Closson was until recently relatively unknown. He moved to Paris in 1817, and trained for seven years in the atelier of renowned history painter Baron Gros. In 1824, Closson received a grant to travel to Rome and Naples. We know nothing of the contacts he had with other artist’s in Italy, though he was there at the same time as Corot, Pitloo and his compatriot Frans Vervloet (1795–1872) among others. The vibrant open-air painting community must have stimulated his interest, as he abandoned history painting to dedicate himself fully to landscape. Closson returned to his native Liège in 1829, where he taught at the Academy from 1837 until his death. His widow presented a group of 600 Italian studies on paper to the Academy, of which 127 are painted in oils (now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Liège).