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Jules Van Wanzeele

(1881-1962)

Jules Van Wanzeele was born on March 11, 1881 in Nevele. He was the third child of Charlotte De Ketelaere and her second husband August Van Wanzeele, whom she married in 1876. His parents had a business in construction materials along the canal in Nevele.

Artistic training

Jules followed lessons at the municipal drawing school, first with Theodoor Janssens, afterwards with Felix Beryngier. In 1907, after the death of his mother, he moved to Gentbrugge to go and live with his sister Celine. In Gent he followed evening classes and later on went to Saint-Lucas (art school). In 1909 he was awarded with the first prize for his painting.

To work

After his graduation, he worked for Michel Lowagie, an old class mate from Saint-Lucas. He assisted in the restauration of  the Holy Blood Chapel in Bruges and the church of Mijlbeek in Aalst. After his marriage in 1912, he started as an independent painter and opened a shop with paint material. He painted advertising texts on vehicles and repainted tilbury’s, landeaus and coupé’s. His wife Marie ironed shirts and collars for the bourgeoisie of Ninove.

WW I

Their plans for the future were swept off the table when the first world war started in 1914. In september 1916 Jules was claimed by the Germans as a laborer and locked in the factory ‘Den Hast’ in Aalst. After several weeks his health had become so weak that he was sent home. The winter of 1917 was harsh. The river ‘De Dender’ was frozen, and there was a food shortage. Together with some neighbours they collected coal in a hand cart from the mines of Haine St-Pierre in Henegouwen (Hainout). At a certain moment, Jules could no longer pay the rent and the family had to move. They got shelter at the house of their friend: Louis van Laer. They lived above the stables. They were poor, hungry and cold. But they didn’t have to pay any rent.

Church interiors

After the war, Jules worked for a restauration company in Roubaix, France. But in 1922 he started working again at Michel Lowagie’s. They restored numerous churches and convents that were destroyed during the war.

Paintings

Jules was not only a craftsman, but also an artist. In his spare time, he painted still lives, portraits and landscapes. It took some time for him to get recognition. In 1943 he had his first exhibition in Ninove. After the war he got several assignments. But he prefered to paint for pleasure. In 1949 he painted for instance the portrait of his son August as captain-commander of the Gendarmerie, a work he was very proud of. Jules died on January 27, 1962. In his entire career, he painted almost 150 paintings and 30 interiors of churches and chapels.

He had his own style with particular attention to detail painting and light. The modern art movements didn’t interest him. Until the end, he remained loyal to the late 19th century aesthetics of his youth.

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