Eduard Gustaaf Schalbroeck
Maid Reading a Newspaper
Signed, Watercolour brush on paper
25 x 24 cm
If we are to believe his obituaries, the artist Eduard Gustaaf Schalbroeck was considered a bit of a mystery when he died in 1935. He had for some time withdrawn himself from society and had become a solitary figure living in squalor. Nevertheless, when old friends of him died he would turn up at their funerals to pay homage. Newspapers signalled his presence in January 1927, when he was seen at the funeral of his fellow artist A.B. Dirckx, and in December 1931 when he attended the funeral of artist W. De Zwart.
Who was this enigmatic figure, who “among the painters of the previous generation had an established name and a certain fame”? Having been born in Rotterdam in 1853, he attended the Academy there and afterwards worked at the University of Antwerp and at the Polytechnic of Delft. He gave drawing classes in Delftshoorn en worked for 10 years as a conservator at the Art Club in Rotterdam, where he restored the entire art collection of Fop Smit and at the request of the Queen restored a portrait of Prince Willem I from the Dutch Royal Collection.
Despite his extensive work as a conservator, it was noted that “his own work is also very much in fashion”. In 1887, for example, he exhibited his work with the Lucas-Confrèrie (the Lucas Brotherhood), of which he was a member. In 1918 he moved his studio to The Hague. His most famous and accomplished works are, without a doubt, his genre works of servants going about their daily business or finding a moment of repose. In his works he finds a balance between the Romantic and the Realist schools of painting. This watercolour, which comes from a private collection in Rotterdam, is one his most accomplished examples of the genre work he specialised in.
Rotterdam Private Collection