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Flower Nocturne

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We believe this painting to date from about 1970 when the artist had an exhibition in the town of Tours in France, where the painting was acquired recently.

The painting is exceptional and unusual in the catalogue of the artist's work and it is remarkable for the delicate handling of the gouache and watercolour. It may interest readers to know that RL Smet is the cousin of Jonny Hallyday, the Belgian rock star.

'Flower Nocturne' c 1970
Rene Louis Smet, b. 1929, Belgium
Watercolour, gouache and frottage.
Size 83cm x 43cm approx

Smet trained as an artist in Brussels at the Academy of Fine Arts and the Atelier Leon Devos, 1949-50. Then in 1954 he spent four years in Brazil visiting the Amazon and living in Sao Paulo and Rio. Here his palette acquired a luminosity which influenced his later work.
Returning to Brussels in 1959, he was admitted to the Paul Delvaux studio. It was at this time that Smet experimented with surrealist techniques such as frottage where wet paint is textured by pressing onto it dry, crumpled paper or tin foil - a technique pioneered by Paul Delvaux's friend Max Ernst. There is some evidence of this technique in this painting.

From Brussels Smet moved to Paris where he continued to work his way into the French modernist school; and from 1962 he spent two years in Rome where he was influenced by the colour and theatricality of the Roman Catholic Church as well as that of Ancient Rome. The Belgian government was by this time acquiring his work for their permanent collections. Smet spent the rest of the 1960s between Brussels and Paris, and in 1970 went to America where he also painted and exhibited. His painting career is notable for the several prizes and awards he won and for his sales to the Belgian National Collection.

We believe that Smet is still based in Paris in Montmartre. He is better known for his work in oil on canvas and his style is characterised by an emotive use of luminosity, handled with delicacy and strength.
Height83 cm (32 3/4")
Width43 cm (17")