Achilles De Maertelaere and Female Nude


In May of last year, a previously unknown painting by Achilles Bentos came to the forefront in a sale at the Vanderkinderen Auction House. A naked woman is looking at the viewer, partly covering her body with a golden yellow sheet. The frame is original and, as we often see in our painter's work, somewhat baroque.

This is an opportunity for us to take a closer look at the many Nudes that Achilles Bentos has created. We know at least twenty female nudes, to which we must add a series of mythological paintings, including the very pretty paintings on the theme Leda and the swan. There is also a statuette of a naked woman.

Some of these works are kept in collections that we know of, but others are still in other collections, in attics, or may even have been destroyed.

It seems that Bentos liked this genre, which, as we have written above, he sometimes associated with mythological scenes.

These women very often have a physique that could be called a little bit Rubenesque, but it is obvious that he knew how to paint them with the necessary care and love. His artistic technique leaves us in no doubt.

One can think that the Nudes, which he painted during the interwar period, were of the taste of the bourgeoisie, for whom he also painted portraits.

Women did not seem to play an important role in the life of Achilles De Maertelaere. With the exception, no doubt, of his mother Pélagie Van Laecke (1856-1931) and his sister Sylvie (1892-1989), with whom he lived after the death of his mother and until the end of his life. There are no reports of love affairs, and he was never married and had no children.

As far as I am concerned, these Nudes are often much more creative and inspiring than some of the portraits of bourgeois men and women, which he perhaps had to paint more out of need than inspiration.

Translated with the help of DeepL