Painter (September 23, 1897 – July 20, 1994)
Paul Delvaux was born in Antheit, in the province of Liège in 1897, the son of a lawyer, who later enrolled him in the architecture class of the Brussels Academy of Fine Arts. Fearing his family’s disapproval, Delvaux secretly attended painting classes in addition to architecture and began to paint in his spare time. Encouraged by his painting teachers, he held his first solo exhibition in 1925.
His early pictures show the influence of Expressionism and Neo-Impressionism rather than Modernism, which Delvaux considered a hoax. In 1936 he first encountered the paintings of the Surrealist painters Giorgio de Chirico and Salvador Dali in the private collections of friends, and subsequently changed his style. His best known painting of this period is ‘The Call of the Night’.
At the same time, he met René Magritte in Brussels and, although Magritte’s odd juxtapositions disconcerted him at first, it was Magritte who would influence him the most. Delvaux developed his own version of Surrealism, exploring the secret domain of his inner life, with female nudes set incongruously in public places such as railway stations. In the 1960s, Delvaux painted a mural for the Brussels Conference Centre and became Director of the Brussels Fine Arts Academy. A museum dedicated to his work opened in 1982 and he died in 1994.