Jean-Baptiste Fresez painted landscapes of Luxembourg City / © Public domain
Unless you’re involved in the scene, a regular museum goer, or just love art a lot, you might not know that much about Luxembourg’s art scene.
Most of you will be familiar with the big names such as Van Gogh, Picasso or Monet but you may have heard little about our local artists who have contributed their fair share to the art world. To fill this gap I’ll now present you a couple of Luxembourg’s best-known painters from the 19th and 20thcentury.
Jean-Baptiste Fresez was born in France in 1800 but moved to Luxembourg two years later, and he now counts among one of Luxembourg’s most important painters of the 19th century.
After successful studies at a Luxembourgish drawing school, he continued his studies at the renowned ‘Académie des Beaux Arts’ in Brussels. The latter allowed him to qualify as an art teacher and he worked as such at the Athenée.
He is now best known for his marvellous landscape paintings of Luxembourg City and for his portraits of the grand-ducal family. His works were already appreciated during his lifetime because of his eye for detail and remain beautiful to look at today. You can see some of his works in the National Museum of History and Art.
Pierre Brandebourg was born in Luxembourg City in 1824 and was actually a student of Jean-Baptiste Fresez. After his studies in Luxembourg he went on to study art across Europe.
Back in Luxembourg he first focused on landscape painting and depictions of the steel industry. Although his talent was recognised, he didn’t make enough money through his art alone and decided to switch to photography, which was a relatively new medium at the time.
He ended up opening Luxembourg’s first photographic studio which became increasingly popular. You can admire some of his works in the Photothèque, but most of them remain in private collections.
Frantz Seimetz was born in Grevenmacher in 1858. He was the first Luxembourgish artist to embrace a more impressionistic style.
Seimetz started painting in his teens and his talent was soon recognised by an industrialist who funded his further studies abroad. After coming back to Luxembourg he mainly painted landscapes and portraits; his style was quite versatile, moving from darker to brighter colours.
Often painting outdoors, he is said to have been an eccentric and always optimistic character who travelled across the world, visiting the US, Canada and Mexico among others. These travels fuelled his imagination and sometimes gave an exotic touch to his paintings. After settling back in Luxembourg he took up writing at the end of his life.
Sosthène Weis was born in Ettelbruck in 1872 and studied civil engineering in Germany. He worked as an architect, first in Munich and then in Luxembourg, the ARBED and post-office building in Luxembourg city count amongst his most well-known works.
Sosthène Weis had a more impressionist style / © Public domain
When it comes to painting, his affinity for art already showed as a child and he was especially interested in watercolour paintings. He would often paint the same spot several times to account for changes in the light and his paintings are full of refreshing colours. It is estimated that he painted around 5000 pictures, mostly of Luxembourg City.
Dominique Lang was born in Duddelange in 1874 and similar to some of the previously mentioned artists, he started his studies in the Athenée before going on to study art in Antwerp. He worked as a drawing teacher but is also Luxembourg’s best known impressionistic painter.
His way to impressionist art was quite striking, as he began his career in a more classical pre-Raphaelite style in which he painted, for instance, a fresco in the church of Junglinster, which can still be admired today. His continuous development finally led him to impressionism and he started to adapt the brighter colours used by other impressionist such as Monet.
During this time he mainly focused on peaceful paintings of the countryside. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to make a living out of his art and also kept working as a teacher. He was awarded the Prix Grand-Duc Adolphe, a Luxembourgish art prize, twice. Some of his paintings are now in the National Museum of History and Art.
Joseph Kutter was born in 1894 and is one of Luxembourg’s most well-known artists. He aspired to be a painter from a young age and studied in Munich.
Kutter’s style is mostly expressionistic and marked by the use of dark colours. He regularly exhibited his works on salons abroad but was temporarily interrupted by WWII and illness.
Even though he painted a variety of different subjects, ranging from landscapes to portraits, he is probably most well- known for his clown head paintings. The latter represent the traditionally cheerful figure of the clown on a dark background and with a sad expression, leaving the observer slightly unsettled. A selection of his works can also be seen in the National Museum of History and Art.
Gust Graas was born in Esch in 1924. Unlike most of the other painters he didn’t study art but law in Paris, after being forced to join the German forces during WWII. While in Paris he met impressionist painters, who probably had an impact on his work.
However, back in Luxembourg he worked as a lawyer and then for the RTL Group. He continuously painted alongside his work and especially focussed on his abstract art after his retirement and move to Spain. Graas was successful in both, his professional and artistic career, holding exhibitions abroad. Sadly he passed away in early 2020.
This list is by no way exhaustive and only accounts for a handful of Luxembourg’s painters but it gives you a small insight into Luxembourg’s art world and maybe encourages you to find out more on your own.