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François-Joseph Navez

Old Hermit Comforting a Sick Child


François-Joseph Navez
Charleroi 1787 – Brussels 1869


Old Hermit Comforting a Sick Child




Oil on canvas


100 x 72 cm


Purchase, the Museum Campaign 1988-1993 Fund, inv. 2015.1


Western Art

Heir to the tradition of the celebrated French painter Jacques-Louis David, François-Joseph Navez is now hailed as the foremost representative of Belgian painting between the periods of Neoclassicism and Romanticism. Students flocked to his studio in Brussels. In 1852, Navez married his daughter, Marie, to Jean-François Portaels, a student, whom he saw as his successor in the leadership of the Brussels school and as director of the Académie royale des beaux-arts there. His joy was short-lived, however, as Marie fell victim to a chronic illness. During a visit to his son-in-law’s studio, Navez painted this canvas, which he dedicated to Dr. Fleury. The pyramidal and moving composition’s foreground features a suffering young woman supported by a Capuchin monk leaning against a cornerstone: could this be a portrait of the artist’s daughter in agony?

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