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1881—1966

Portret van Irma Dhaenens, 1963

oil paint
700 x 600 x 20 mm
Collectie Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens

Irma Dhaenens (1884–1968) had Léon De Smet paint her portrait. She often walked, dressed with a striking brooch and pearl necklace, through her museum, where she received dignitaries and artists. She unconditionally supported her husband Jules Dhondt in his vision. In the last years of her life, she suffered several heart attacks that made her and her husband Jules think about the future of their beloved collection.

This portrait shows how Léon De Smet was heavily influenced by Impressionism and Pointillism and, unlike his contemporaries, remained faithful to the technique of spots and stripes. Despite the muted palette, he achieved a great diversity of colours and tones in balanced compositions.

During the First World War De Smet fled to England, where he worked mainly on official portraits of wealthy citizens. The portraits of the museum’s founders Jules and Irma Dhondt-Dhaenens, were painted a few years prior to opening and hung prominently in the reception room. Léon De Smet lived in Deurle from 1926 until his death in 1966.

  • This work is part of the museum’s main collection. It was included in the inventory of the donation from Jules and Irma Dhondt-Dhaenens that was compiled at the board meeting on 03.06.1967.


Irma Dhondt-Dhaenens welcomes Prince Albert of Belgium to the knitwear factory NV Safti. From the archives of Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens.
Foto: Cedric Verhelst, www.artinflanders.be, © SABAM Belgium 2024.