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A Special Builder's Notes

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09 September 2023

When In Ghent.

A magnetising job came up in Ghent - a bit closer to home than Donghae - so the van was packed, and we trundled off to catch the Harwich to Hook of Holland ferry.

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It was not the most encouraging of starts. Arriving in the port of Ghent, we learnt that the ship we were to be transferring cable from would be four days late...

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... and the landscape wasn't improved by a break in the weather. As is often the case, a delay in proceedings gave me time to scoot off to a local museum, and Ghent didn't disappoint. There were plenty of galleries and museums to choose from.

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I plumped for the Museum voor Schone Kunsten which had a wealth of Flemish and other European paintings from the early 17thC on.

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'Village Lawyer.' Peter Bruegel II 1621. A satirical painting depicting the wily lawyer confounding the peasantry with piles of paperwork.

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'Still Life with Ham and Bread.' Willem Claesz. Heda 1643. The cuts in the ham are particularly convincing.

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'Interior of a Church.' Hendrick Cornelisz. van Vliet c.1655.

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'Winter Scene in Ghent.' Pierre Francois de Noter 1838.

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'A Fair in Ghent in the Middle Ages.' Felix de Vigne 1862.

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'The Port of La Rochelle.' Albert Marquet 1920. One of my stops in the Hillman Special on the Monaco Dash.

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'Drilling a Well.' Edouard Agneessens c.1842. I wondered if the white space on the right of the canvas indicated an unfinished work.

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'Neptune's Pool at Versailles.' Charles-Francois Daubigny c.1866.

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'The Master Painter.' Jan Frans Verhas 1877. I think this was my favourite. The expressions on the children's faces are perfectly rendered. Children are notoriously difficult to paint. Their skin, unlike the chiselled and time-worn countenance of the Special Builder, is often devoid of feature.

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'Sunny Day.' Emile Claus 1899.

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'Young Woman.' Gustave Vanaise 1901.

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'Artist in Her Studio.' Alfred Stevens 1823. I have an identical easel - a much treasured possession.

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'The Sambre Valley.' Theo Van Rysselberghe 1890. The blurb describes this as one of the earliest known landscapes painted entirely in the Pointerlist style.

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'A Sculptor's Workshop.' Jozef Horenbant 1889. An almost monotonic palette is not easy to manipulate.

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'The Strafing.' C.R.W. Nevinson c.1916. Nevinson was one of the most well-known Great War artists. After leaving the Slade School of Art, he fell in with Marinetti - leader of the Italian Futurists. He was also a friend of Wyndham Lewis who went on to found the Vorticist movement - a favourite of mine. The influence of both those movements can be detected in Nevinson's later work.

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'Harbour - Opus 2.' Victor Servranckx 1926. Though Abstract art is not my thing, this one took my eye - I'm working in Ghent's harbour after all.

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