Catalog of the Fine Arts Collection

Please note that the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum prohibits the use of images from its collection in public exhibition, broadcast, electronic reproduction or publication in any form without prior written permission from the institution. If you would like to reproduce any of the Art Gallery images in any form, contact us at 748-8291.


Eugene Joseph Verboeckhoven (1798-1881), Belgian
Sheep, 1875
OIL ON PANEL, 16 x 19 inches
Gift of Horace Fairbanks

Shortly after the artist's death in 1881, Eugene Verboeckhoven's por­trayals of animals were character­ized as "so well known in America as well as Europe that they need no description or praise." The artist's carefully delineated depictions of domestic and farm animals earned him lavish praise throughout the mid-nineteenth century until around 1860, when a more specific mode of realism came into fashion. Never one to stray from his convic­tions (he systematically employed the triangle of three dots after his signature to identify himself as a Freemason), Verboeckhoven continued to produce ideal­ized pastoral and barnyard scenes until his death. By 1875, when the Athenaeum's painting was completed, the artist had become a venerated elder statesman among his peers.

Verboeckhoven's reputation appears to have revolved at least partially around his active role in the Belgian Revolution of 1830. Declaring independence from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, Belgians (like Americans of that same era) took pride in their unique national identity in both culture and art throughout the mid-century, and Verboeckhoven was among their early heroes.


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