Jenny Montigny


The school yard in Deurle in spring

c. 1920
Oil on canvas
110 x 150 cm
Framed: 127,5 x 167,5 cm
Signed lower right: J. Montigny

Signed lower right: J. Montigny

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- Deprez, T. e.a., Impressionism in Flanders (Gent: 2015), p. 66-67 (ill.).
- De Smet, J., Sint-Martens-Latem en de kunst van 1870-1970 (Tielt: Lannoo, 2000).
- Lemal-Mengeot, C. e.a., Jenny Montigny 1875-1937. Lumières impressionistes, (Charleroi: Musée des Beaux-Arts, 1997).
- Pauwels, P.J.H., Comme un miroir étincelant (Sint-Martens-Latem: Galerie Oscar De Vos, 2019), p. 137 (ill.).
- Van der Stighelen, K. & M. Westen, Elck zijn waerom. Vrouwelijke kunstenaars in België en Nederland 1500-1950, (Antwerpen: KMSKA, 1999), pp. 305-307.
- Van Doorne, V., Retrospectieve tentoonstelling Anna De Weert, Jenny Montigny, Yvonne Serruys, (Deinze: MuDeL, 1988).
- Van Langenhove, J.P., Huldetentoonstelling Jenny Montigny 1875-1937, (Deurle: Museum Leon De Smet, 1987).
- Ghent, Salles de Fêtes, Salon de 1922: 42e Exposition Gand. Triennal du Cercle Artistique & Littéraire, 25.06-25.08.1922.
This monumental painting, The school yard in Deurle in spring, presents Jenny Montigny at her best, both in subject, composition and coloring. With an eye sympathetic for childhood affection, she tells a personal story in which human interaction is central. Though using a restful and limited palette, she catches the young in a generous light, gathering in fond, peaceful groups. The children's figures follow and recede along a curving ledge, while repetition of orange and pink tinted brown tones shape it to a more compact and rhythmic form. The brighter green punctuates the work, while the halos of light surrounding most figures suggest the particular, brief brightness of the afternoon sun.
This sun-drenched canvas shows the artist at her most inspired. Yet Montigny, who became an active member of the group Vie et Lumière, was no unimaginative worshipper and imitator. Her mentor Emile Claus pointed the way, but it were her innate talent and personal response that created such a pleasing image.

Jenny Montigny was a pupil and ever devoted follower of Emile Claus; Claus the luminist rather than the academic painter. Montigny painted portraits, landscapes and still-lifes, but above all, she painted children. She found their youthful enthusiasm and absorption irresistible, and aesthetically, realised the great potential of the shapes and groups they formed, whether at play or rest. In the words of Paul Colin: '... Elle s'attache volontiers â des sujets mouvementes, qui lui permettent de composer, avec un sens réal de l'arabesque, des rondes et desjeux d'enfants.' (La Peintre Belge Depuis 1830, 1930, pp. 349-350). She painted in softer tones than her master, using mellow shades of blue and green and more grey and brown in her palette. (Sarah Polden)

Her permanent home had become Deurle, on the banks of the Lys. This verdant region and its light, as diffused through the sky and reflected from the river, had appealed more than any other to the much-travelled Claus. Montigny travelled as Claus suggested; their close association is further indicated by their complementary portraits, his of her (1902) in the Musée Royal des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and the master by his pupil in the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Ghent.
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The school yard in Deurle in spring