Léon SPILLIAERT (Ostend 1881 - Brussels 1946)

The Commercial Port of Ostend Sold

Gouache and watercolour on paper.
Signed and dated Spilliaert 1926 at the lower right.
349 x 258 mm. (13 3/4 x 10 1/8 in.)


This gouache drawing depicts the Quai de la Commerce, the Pilotage building and the Gare Maritime in Ostend. The three commercial docks in Ostend were built and developed in the 18th and 19th centuries, and by the early years of the 20th century the area around them housed warehouses, wharves, factories, hotels and a railway station. In 1924 Spilliaert moved to a studio on the second floor of a building on the Amsterdamstraat, with a view overlooking the port. In his sketchbooks, he made a large number of drawings of the buildings and quays of the commercial docks, and these appear in several finished drawings of this period. However, as Norbert Hostyn has noted, ‘He rarely represents [the docks] in their reality: he plays with topographical elements from their surroundings: the two sturdy railway station towers and the metal railway station roof, the slender tower of the pilotage building as well as other buildings. He displaced and rearranged them and thus made contemporary capriccios with them.’

Among other drawings of the commercial port of Ostend are a large watercolour view of The Commercial Docks and the Gare Maritime of 1924, in the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique in Brussels and an even larger gouache, pastel and ink drawing of The Commercial Docks in Ostend of the same date, in the collection of the Vlaamse Gemeenschap in Belgium.

Purchased from the artist by Abraham Lauffer, Ostend, c.1926
His wife, Antoinette Lauffer-Rottersman, New York, until 1956
By descent to Georges Lauffer, Paterson, NJ and Laguna Hills, CA, until c.1990
Thence by descent to Robert Lauffer, El Sobrante, CA, until 2012.

To be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work by Anne Adriaens-Pannier.


The Commercial Port of Ostend


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