9497 PORTRAIT OF AMAND DE LEU BY PIERRE VAN HUFFEL (1769-1844) Probably Ghent. 1822. Measurements: Framed: Height: 79″ (200.6 cm) Width: 67″ (170.2 cm) Depth: 4 3/4″ (12 cm) Sight size: Height: 66″ (167.6 cm) Width: 54″ (137.2 cm)
Oil on canvas.
Signed lower left:
VAN HUFFEL PXT 1822
The present portrait of a gentleman seated in a late Empire interior was painted by Belgian artist Pierre van Huffel. Born in Flanders in 1769, he began his artistic career under the guidance of his uncle and godfather, Pierre Canivé, a paintings conservator in Geraardsbergen. Van Huffel then studied in Ghent and Paris, where he worked for a time in the studio of Jacques-Louis David. He returned to Belgium and later became the director of the Academy of Ghent, president of the Société des Beaux Arts, and keeper of the Municipal Museum. He was predominantly a portrait and history painter, but was also known for religious compositions.
The sitter of the present portrait may be identified as Monsieur Amand de Leu, as evidenced by the letter he is holding, which is addressed to him. It reads:
Monsr Amand De Leu
Negt à Gand, Belgique
Amand de Leu appears to have been a merchant (négociant) in Ghent as well as an amateur botanist. His name appears as an exhibitor listed in several editions of the Exhibition Publique de la Société Royale d’Agriculture et de Botanique à Gand in the 1830s and 40s, and he won medals in certain years for his contributions. Interestingly, the Salon d’Hiver of the 1838 exhibition included both De Leu and Van Huffel as exhibitors in the Salon des Fleurs.
While the identity of the sender is unknown, the letter does indicate that it originated in Marseille, France.