This canvas from 1820 is a textbook example of the ideal held by the pupils and followers of the great French Neoclassicist David, a group to which Joseph Paelinck belonged: it shows an episode from an classical Greek love story, it has a balanced composition, and its execution is impeccable and even polished. The many figures are outlined in what could be termed "closed" contours and their faces express an almost unearthly serenity. On top of that, the story that supplied the subject of this painting propagates virtues that were highly valued in 19th-century bourgeois ethics: faithfulness, constancy, and courage in the face of adversity...
In his book "Ephesian Tales", the Greek author Xenophon of Ephesus recounts the adventures of the young Habrocomes and Anthia. His tale contains the traditional ingredients of classical Greek love stories, of which "Daphnis and Chloe" is the best-known example. When the proud Habrocomes meets the fair Anthia " during a procession in the famous temple of the goddess Artemis in Ephesus: the episode that Paelinck has chosen to painthere " he falls in love with her through the agency of Eros. In fact, the god of love inflicts this on him as a punishment for Habrocomes' claim to be indifferent to love. Once married, they have all sorts of adventures: they are kidnapped by pirates, separated, and sold as slaves. In the end, though, they find one another again and presumably live happily ever after.This canvas is an example of pure, undiluted Neoclassicism. The MSK collection contains other paintings in this style that refer more to their own age and are more accessible, such as the Self-portrait and the View of the Colosseum by Josse Sébastien Van den Abeele and Joseph François Ducq's Portrait of Colette Versavel.
SizeH: 229,8 cm
MediumOil on canvas