Smiling Women


Although never married and, as far as we know, never in relation to a woman, Achilles De Maertelaere-Bentos has painted many portraits of women. Some of these portraits are among the most expressive portraits he has made.

In 1926-1927 he paints two works on the same theme of the smiling woman. In one case it concerns a portrait in which the woman looks directly at the viewer with a broad smile, in the other, she turns her head to the right as if she had been addressed by another viewer.

The first work is known to us via an old sepia photo in which the artist has written 'Manchester' on the verso. We suspect that this is to say that the work ended up in Manchester. We found this work at a Parisian auction in 2013, where it was attributed to Edmond De Maertelaere. Edmond was the reason why Achilles chose the pseudonym Bentos at some point, to avoid confusion. So he was right! The current location of the work is not known to us.

The second portrait was presented at an exhibition organised by 'Geluk in 't Werk' (Happiness through Work) in Ghent in 1931. "Geluk in 't Werk" was an association founded by the Ghent liberal professor François Laurent. This association acted for the welfare of the people, through sports clubs and art associations. This work is still in the hands of a Flemish family.

A monument in honour of Professor François can still be found today on the Laurent square in Ghent. It is a work by J. Van Biesbroeck, one of the teachers of Achilles De Maertelaere.

Translated with the help of DeepL