Bronze sculpture of a female torso by Léon Sarteel

Female torso by Léon Sarteel

This bronze torso sculpture with light brown patina by the Belgian sculptor Léon Sarteel is signed « Fond. Vindevogel Zwijnaarde Gand. » indicating its casting at the Vindevogel foundry.


This bronze torso with light brown patina by the Belgian sculptor Léon Sarteel. It is signed « l Sarteel » and « Fond. Vindevogel Zwijnaarde Gand. » indicating its casting at the Vindevogel foundry.

Léon Sarteel (1882 – 1942) was born and grew up in Ghent. After local training and evening classes, his career as a sculptor took off in 1908 when he won the Sculpture Prize, awarded only once every six years, at the Ghent Academy. The stipend that came with it made it possible for him to concentrate exclusively on his work for a period of three years. The young Sarteel instantly stepped into the foreground thanks to the attention generated by his sculpture « The Orator » at the tri-annual Salon of Ghent. For five years, he occupied a studio outside the city (Sint-Denijs-Westrem). Then, the vicissitudes of war drove him back to his parental home. Thanks to a fortunate draft lottery, the young sculptor evaded military service and was able to pursue his artistic calling.

For thirty years, he actively participated in many official exhibitions, as well as organizing a fair number of them himself. It was a demanding aspect of his hardworking life. The appreciation for his work grew in 1919. It’s when the Ghent Museum of Fine Arts purchased Sarteels’ bronze bust of the painter Charles- René Callewaert (1893-1936). Two years later the University of Ghent ordered a posthumous bust, a medallion and a bronze wall relief, in memory of the famous engineer and professor Jules Boulvin (1855-1920). His marriage, aged forty, to Anne Pirsens, ten years his junior, with whom he had three children, further contributed to Sarteels’ development as an artist. His work gradually evolved from romantic realism into an intimate symbolism that was entirely his own. 

The influence that Sarteel initially gleaned from Constantin Meunier (1831-1905) gradually made way for the symbolist atmosphere exuded by the work of the far younger George Minne (1866-1941). That style shift was evident in the 3,2 m high «Monument of the Cooperation» that he created for an exhibition in Ghent in 1924. Following the birth of his son Leon (1925-1949) he undertook a study trip in France and several years later (1929-1930) Sarteel was able to have a house built of his own that included a studio. Despite his relentless participation in exhibitions, he continued to execute commissions (portraits, garden and funerary sculptures, medallions) in the most diverse materials of wood, marble, granite and bronze. In 1935 he created a life-sized «Woman of This Time» as an eye catcher in the rose garden of the Brussels World Fair. 

He was never entrusted with a teaching position. Though, he was regularly called upon to sit on the jury of major sculpture competitions (including the Prix de Rome, the Godecharle Prize, the Devigne Prize). The Sarteel biography is extensive, and the list of his exhibitions was drawn up after the retrospective exhibition of his work that was held in Sint-Denijs-Westrem in 1982. Conspicuously absent from that overview is Sarteel’s participation, with no less than 5 bronzes, in the event Flämische Kunst der Gegenwart (Flemish Contemporary Art) that took place from 17 May until 11 June in Berlin in 1941, the year in which the artist became a member of the board of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent. In 1942 he made «Gemoedsadel» (Nobility of Mind), which was probably Sarteel’s final work.

The Vindevogel Foundry : This renowned bronze foundry was located in Zwijnaarde in Belgium. It was a family business, consisting of Karel Vindevogel and his sons Achiel (1911-1984 or 1994) and Geo (1923-1977). In Ghent one finds among others the following statues that were cast by them: the statue ‘the first step in life’, which is located in the Citadel Park and is a design by Geo Verbanck and the statue of Pieter van Gent (on the Fratersplein). They sign their work with « Fonderie Vindevogel » or « bronz. Findevogel ».

Height: 54,5 cm.

Width: 23 cm.

Depth: 24 cm.

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