HENRI VAN ASSCHE (Brussels 1774 – 1841 Brussels)

Henri Van Assche

Henri van Assche (Brussels 1774 – 1841 Brussels)

Portrait of a Dog, seated on a red cushion

Oil on canvas, 65.5 x 55 cm (25.8 x 21.7 inch); presented in the original carved and gilt Empire frame

Signed and dated 1801 (lower left)

Private collection, The Netherlands


Van Assche was born in Brussels on 30 August 1774.1 From his earliest years he showed a predilection for painting, and received from his father, who was a distinguished amateur artist, the first principles of design and perspective. He was afterwards placed with Deroy of Brussels, from whom he received further instructions in painting. Journeys in Switzerland and Italy contributed to develop his talent as a landscape painter.

His great partiality for representing waterfalls, mountain streams, and mills gained for him the name of ‘The Painter of Waterfalls’. Several pictures by him may be seen in public and private collections of Brussels, Ghent, Lille, and Haarlem, some of which are enriched with figures and animals by Balthasar Paul Ommeganck. He died in Brussels on 10 April 1841. His niece Isabelle Catherine van Assche, was a pupil. Her sister, Amélie van Assche, was a miniaturist.

This exceptional work must have been commissioned by the owner of the depicted dog, who remains anonymous. Such a portrait of an animal is a rarity not only among the oeuvre of Van Assche, but in the whole of the art of the period.


1. For the artist, see Denis Coekelberghs, 1770-1830: Om en rond het neo-classicisme in België, Brussels 1985, pp. 306-307.