Socially engaged work
Achilles De Maertelaere was, certainly in the beginning of his career, an eventful socialist. He was apprenticed to Jules Van Biesbroeck Jr.
He made paintings for the socialist party in Ghent and surroundings. In addition to painting, Achilles De Maertelaere also made sculptures (see the monumental tomb of J. Samijn and a statue of a seated worker) and graphic work.
The "Banket des levens" (Banquet of Life) is a preliminary study for a large canvas that would be developed as a mural for 'Ons Huis' at the Vrijdagsmarkt in Ghent, as noted by Achilles De Maertelaere on the reverse of the photograph.
"The clock strikes 5 o'clock! Half asleep they go to the factory" is the most iconic work of Achilles De Maertelaere. The work is said to date from 1905 and was used for several years during the 1st of May processions in Ghent.
The girl on the right is very likely to be the younger sister of Achilles, who was then 13 years old.
The iconic work of the socialist party was a.o. used on posters celebrating the 100th anniversary of the socialist movement in Ghent.
A copy of the painting is reproduced in a bronze bas-relief on the tomb of Jan Samijn (Western cemetery Westerbergraafplaats) and a version composed of tiles adorns the walls of the Mouscron People's house.
P. Verbruggen, "De klok slaat 5 ure ! Een iconische schilderij van Achilles De Maertelaere, alias Bentos", in Brood en Rozen, 2017, 3, pp. 46-56
This drawing (left) is a preliminary study for a large canvas (11m by 2) with boat tractors towing a boat (supra). According to Achilles De Maertelaere this was made for the Cooperative of cities and city employees in Dendermonde. The canvas is now in a private collection.
The series of drawings below is also intended for murals in a building (note the arches). They depict different professions. The proposed titles are based on the tools and attributes depicted. According to notes by Ach. De Maertelaere, it concerns drawings for the mural in the room of "Our House, Vrijdagmarkt Gent". The series dates from 1904.
Achilles De Maertelaere also called the series 'Caryatids - Caryatids'. This (complete?) series was shown at the Xe exhibition Art & Knowledge, in 1936 in Ghent.
This 'Allegory of the textile industry' was presented at the 1913 World's Exhibition. It is now be located in the Floreal in Blankenberge.
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