Portraits of Canadian families
In the collection of Achilles De Maertelaere, there is a whole series of portraits
of Canadians. Men and women in uniform, older men and women ... Based on the
limited information Bentos has written on the back of old photographs, I was
able to trace back a series of those Canadians. Here is one of the beautiful
Two old photos mention "D.J. Garner" and "White Rock, B.C., Canada". There was a picture of an older woman, D.J. Garner's grandmother, and a young woman who is listed as 'bride of D.J. Garner'. With this information, I could find a track in White Rock, near Vancouver, that led me to the family, more specifically his two children, daughter Kathy and son Gerry. After all, they turned out to be three portraits.
Douglas Garner (°1923) was a Canadian soldier who stayed in Ghent in 1944-1945. He was incorporated as a driver in the 65th Tank Transport. During visits to café Bentos on the Wondelgemstraat he came into contact with Achilles De Maertelaere. He made several portraits for him, including his own portrait, one of Lucy Jenkins, his grandmother, and one of his father, Joseph, as a young sailor. The portrait of what Achilles calls the bride of D.G. Garner appears to be wrongly attributed. It happens that the information on the verso of the photos is not as accurate.
Bentos made the portraits of the parents on the basis of photographs that Doug had with him. The portrait of the father was clumsily retouched in Canada because the father considered that his uniform was not correctly depicted.
In a letter (the mid-1990s) to the city of Ghent, Douglas asked about Achilles Bentos. Apparently, he never received an answer to this question. The description of Achilles given by Doug is interesting:
"The owner Mr. Bentos introduced me to an artist who had painted several portraits of famous persons i.e. Churchill, Mark Clark, Eisenhower, and Montgomery" ... "I was taken to the artist's studio not far from the hotel/cafe and met with the artist who was elderly" ... "I recall he wore a small black skull cap and had a very long beard. He had lived and worked from this studio located up a long flight of stairs, on the outside of the building"
Translated with the help of DeepL