17th century Flemish and Dutch paintings

Coomans, Joseph
18.500 €

La coupe de l’amitié (the cup of friendship)
Oil on canvas : 83,7 X 127,5 cm
Signed lower left on the bottom of the sandal “J. Coomans”
Currently unframed

In short
Joseph Coomans was a Belgian painter who knew his greatest successes in Paris where he settled in 1860, after having discovered the ancient Roman frescoes of Pompei in Naples. These examples of Roman painting would have a lasting influence on him. He specialised in these highly detailed reconstructions of ancient Roman life during the first century AD. These also sold well to American collectors.
About (Pierre Olivier) Joseph Coomans
Belgian painter
Brussels 1816–1889 Boulogne-sur-Seine (Boulogne-Bilancourt, near Paris)
From his first marriage he had a son, Oscar-Jean (1848–1884), who was a poet. From his second marriage with Adelaide Lacroix (1838–1884) he had two daughters, who both also became painters: Diana (1861 – 1952) and Héva (1860 – 1939). 
Joseph (and inspired by him also his two daughters) specialised in academic, detailed scenes recording the life of the Roman inhabitants of Pompei shortly before the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
Joseph Coomans had a rather adventurous and interesting life. He trained as a Romantic painter in Belgium and he became (at the demand of Queen Louise-Marie of Orléans, wife of the First Belgian King, Leopold I) a military painter in Algeria (1843-1845), where he was influenced by Orientalism. He also covered the Crimean War in 1854 and 1855, before settling near Naples in 1855, where he got inspired by the freso paintings discovered in and around Pompei.
In 1860 he moved to Paris where he was succesfull with his historic, highly-finished views of ancient Roman life and with his exotic portraits of young women. As he sold well in the United States, he travelled there with his family between October 1888 and June 1889, staying in Philadelphia and in New York. He returned to Paris and died a few months later, 31st of December 1889.
Both his daughters, Diana and Héva, moved permanently to New York in 1910, where they became well introduced. Both joined the Long Island High Society as listed artists.
About our painting
Our Roman banquet scene must have been one of Cooman’s most popular compositions, as he painted several versions of it:
- a small monogrammed preparatory design on paper, sold in 2008 at the Horta Auction House in Brussels,
- our signed painting, 83 X 127 cm,
- a smaller signed version, dated 1876, 55 X 83 cm, sold in 2016 at the Dallas Auction Gallery in the USA,
- a larger signed version, dated 1875, 100 X 150 cm, from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a marvellous example of a Roman “Art Pompier” painting: ancient Roman life seen through the eyes of a 19th century painter.
Comparative paintings
Click photos for more details