Joseph Paelinck

1781 - 1839

Place Born


Place Died



Paelinck studied at the Académie de Gand during Belgium’s dominance by France, and therefore it was quite natural for him to continue his work in Paris. David, recognising his talent in a letter dated 1801, wrote about his pupil: ‘1 think one could not have better artistic propensities. He will be a painter, I can assure you. What have I said? He already is one”. Having won the prize at the Académie de Gand in 1804, Paelinck was launched on his artistic career with such notable works as the Sainte Colette (1806), commissioned for the cathedral of Saint-Bavon de Gand, and executed in the historical-troubadour style, as well as his official portraits and especially the Josephine of 1807 (Gand, Musee des Beaux-Arts). But of immense importance to his development was an annuity awarded him by the city of Gand which allowed him to stay in Rome for four years. From 1808 he enjoyed all the advantages that a pupil of David might expect in that city. These favourable circumstances assured his participation in work taking place at the Quirinal in 1813 in preparation for Napoleon’s visit, for which he executed a huge canvas (now lost) of Augustus ordering the embellishment of Rome. Equally, his Roman sojourn was responsible for the The Finding of the True Cross (Gand, Église Saint-Michel), a vast work in which he demonstrated his skill in working within a large format. The immense composition, The Supper at Emmaus, painted in 1817 for the church at Everghem, is also particularly noteworthy because this austere canvas, in which can be seen echoes of Philippe de Champaigne, is undoubtedly the artist’s masterpiece. But it was an entirely different style that led to his triumph at the 1820 Salon in Gand, with the elegant and graceful Belle Anthia (Gand, Musee des Beaux-Arts). Later, he once again turned to religious subjects (The Flight into Eygpt, 1829, Malines, Église Sainte-Catherine; The Adoration of the Shepherds, 1830, Église de Wachtebeke), but meanwhile the evolution of taste which now favoured Romanticism and both nationalism and the fervent hostility felt towards Neoclassicism in Belgium brought the painter’s career to an end after 1830 and contributed to his fall into oblivion. It was only during the recent rediscovery of Belgian Neoclassicism that Paelinck’s rich personality was reappraised, revealing a complex talent representative of the diverse tendencies that distinguish Belgian art during the first third of the nineteenth century.

Art Works Sold

Apollo punishes Midas for his false judgement by condemning him to sport an ass's ears

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Historical Period: 1780-1820 Neoclassicism
Apollo punishes Midas for his false judgement by condemning him to sport an ass's ears