La Belgique Sanglante
Bleeding Belgium

Jan Theodor Toorop (1858 1928)

Date
1917
Medium
Charcoal and colored chalk on cardboard
Dimensions
Height: 63 cm
Width: 76 cm
Inscription
Signed on lower left: J.Th.Toorop / 1917
Inventory Number
1958Ma026
Acquisition
Purchased in 1958

Characteristic of Toorop's works are the dynamic, flowing lines, elongated figures and the compositional structure of several overlapping planes influenced by Art Nouveau. Thematically many of his works reflect a religious-mystical world view. In the work “Time and Eternity” Toorop visualizes his religious convictions in which Christ is to be seen as the eternal Son of God. Jesus appears holding a communion cup, host and banner of victory, which shows him to be the victor over death. The stream of time culminates in the depiction of a woman carrying an hourglass and a sword with a skull as symbols of finitude.
All the objects created by humankind for eternity are also shown to be transient as the tottering ancient columns and the collapsing cathedral.
Also in the painting “Bleeding Belgium” Toorop demonstrates his view that only faith provides support in times of turmoil. In the foreground is a praying nun with the features of Toorop’s longtime friend Miek Janssen. She is flanked by a woman in a black habit who has face in her hands in sorrow. This was the final work in a series in which Toorop depicted the sufferings of the Belgian population in the First World War.

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