Turkey by Bernard Van Humbeeck

Together with the Antwerp-based animal-sculptor Georges Collard (1881-1961), who only made bronze sculptures of animals, and Philippe Wolfers (1858-1929), Van Humbeeck is one of the very rare sculptors to choose as a subject a turkey (meleagris gallopavo) in all its natural dignity. Their remote predecessor the Flemish Giambologna (15291608) realized a bronze turkey which for the universal history of sculpture attained an iconic significance. Rendered life-size in marble, its appearance is somewhat estranging, and the artist has attempted to make the massive volume lighter by freeing up the feet and the caruncle on the upper beak. What is remarkable is the effect of the individually rendered feathers that seem to cover the entire body like scales.

For the most part this figurative sculptor’s training and career evolved in his hometown. Even before he settled in West-Flanders (Oudenburg) when he was older, and became a teacher at the academy of Ostend, he had built up a firm reputation as a skilful craftsman capable of expertly depicting both animal and human subjects. Van Humbeeck executed portraits, nudes, fishermen, and also religious work, just like his mentor Baudouin Tuerlinckx (1873-1945), in diverse materials. For years he was a wood carver and a respected force in the famous ateliers of Mechelen where the production of historicising furniture attained high levels of excellence. The nature of that work implied anonymity. For similar reasons it is also not possible to ascertain to what extent Van Humbeeck was involved with the sculptural decoration of the Centenary Celebration Palaces in Brussels. The appearance of those signatures he did apply to his free work affirms the suspicion that this artist had a quiet and humble awareness of his own artistic identity.

  • 36 x 24 x 27,5

White Carrara marble sculpture.

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