Firmin Baes (18 April 1874, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Belgium – 4 December 1943, Brussels, Belgium); Belgian painter.

Son of Henri Baes, a lecturer at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts... Baes was brought up in an artistically inclined family. He studied at the Académie Royale and was involved in an intellectual circle known as La Patte de Dindon, named after a cafe of the same name in the Grand Place, Brussels.

Firmin Baes was active as a portrait painter and a painter of still life subjects, nudes, landscapes and interiors. He was a superb draughtsman, adept at charcoal, chalk and pastel, and often worked on a large scale. While at first he exhibited mainly oil paintings and large charcoal drawings, as his career progressed he began to work mainly in pastel, producing highly finished portraits, still life subjects and nudes. Baes’s account book lists a total of 1,340 paintings sold to collectors, of which 212 were portraits and 264 were still life subjects. Paintings and pastels by Baes are today in the collections of several museums in Belgium, and elsewhere.

From around 1900 onward Baes worked almost exclusively in pastel, employing a confidence and a virtuoso technique reminiscent of such 18th-century masters of the medium as Jean-Baptiste Chardin. Baes’s exhibition pastels were usually drawn on canvas, rather than paper or board, and he seems to have developed a particular (and secret) technique of fixing the friable pastel medium to the canvas support. The resulting works, usually executed on a fairly large scale, are characterized by a refined technique and luminous color. The author of a review of an exhibition of the artist’s work in 1934 noted:

"Behold a still life by Firmin Baes, extraordinarily true in its tonalities, in the very matter of its objects. The eye is truly touched by the glistening round form of the translucent porcelain, the coarseness of the orange, the softness of the velvet cloth."
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First Collected by

Ken Pope


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