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Joseph Edouard Stevens
(Belgian, 1819 -1892 )

Joseph Stevens was the principal proponent of the Belgian Realist School of animal painters, depicting the animals as they appeared with idealisation. He studied with the animal painter, L. Robbe, and was influenced by the French school of Realist painters. He divided his time between Brussels and Paris. His work was very popular during his lifetime and he received the Legion of Honour in 1861 and the Order of Leopold of Belgium in 1863.

Stevens continued in the tradition of earlier animal artists such as Fyt and de Vos, while also being influenced by the French Realist school of Courbet. Stevens’ was also a realist in his subject matter, for no dog was beneath his consideration. His depictions of heavy cart dogs hauling loads of salt, stray dogs emaciated from lack of nourishment, and weary circus dogs were often brutally realistic.

Steven's work is characterized by an extraordinary sympathy for his subject matter, choosing to paint the less fortunate canine citizens of Brussels. While his English contemporary, Edwin Landseer, chose to paint both the high life and the low life of the dog world, Stevens concentrated on the latter.


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