Xavier Mellery. "Immortalité". (1890). All rights reserved.

After a hard period, I continue developing my Art dedicated blog.

Today I wan to point my eyes to a Belgian Symbolist painter: Xavier Mellery. He is not very wellknown, there are not too much texts about him, but I think he has an interesting personality and a he has a particular way of painting.

As a brief profile, we must say that Mellery was born in Laken in 1845 and died in Brussels in 1921. He was the son of the Royal Palace gardener and this circunstance could help him to develope his career. First, he initially worked with the painter-decorator Charles Albert and later could enter into the Brussels Academy of Fine Arts from 1860 to 1867. Though he had achademic training we must empasize his style as Symbolist. We can consider him as companion of Fernand Khnopff or Jean Delville, two of the most important Belgian Symbolists.

In this post, I want to compare two works of Mellery that are very related each other. They have a similar composition and colours (golden and blue), with two main characters that are opposites but are fundamentally related. Both were composed near 1890 and their titles are Immortalité (Immortality) and La Délicatesse est fille de la Force (the Gentleness is the doughter of the Force).

As I mentioned, the composition is similar: both canvases are vertical and the composition is located inside a golden space with a semicircle at the top. This golden color could be a reference to Byzantine Art, an element used also by his neighbor and famous painter Alphonse Mucha. It´s an element that emphasizes the divine character of the represented characters.

Two opposited figures appear in Immortalité: Death and Immortality. Death is represented in a traditional way: an skeleton with an scythe loking front and sit on a kind of wood wall and Immortality, a young man who looks back to Death, wearing a blue roman dress. Close to Immortality there is a third charater, secondary one, a child. This third character could suggest that Mellery wanted to represent the three ages of men, like the classic paintings of this matter.

Xavier Mellery. "La délicatesse est fille de la force". (1890). All rights reserved.

La Délicatesse est fille de la Force presents two figures but this time both looks to the observer. Gentleness is a female character and Force is male: they are two allegories represented in different sexes because the words to design them are male or female in French language. This question has appeared in other posts: the allegories use to be represented male or female on depending the genre of the word that designs it in each language. Force is a mature man, completely nude except his covered sex by a woollen and he holds a wooden stick. Gentleness wears a transparent dress and holds on the Force hand as support. She also has a bunch that emphasizes the female side of the Gentleness allegory.

Both are very fantastic paintings. You can admire them and many more works from Mellery on the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. A nice plan for this summer if you are near there.

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