Fernand ALLARD L'OLIVIER (1883-1933): Mutusi woman, 1931


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Fernand ALLARD L'OLIVIER (1883-1933) : Mutusi woman. Original plate edited by Isy BRACHOT in 1931 for "The Belgian Congo as seen by the painter ALLARD L'OLIVIER", after the painting realized for the "Congo Palace" at the artistic and colonial exhibition at Antwerp in 1930. Newly framed under glass with 'palm tree leaves' wand.


Plate : 32,5 x 25,5 cm - 12 3/4 x 10 in
Frame : 36,7 x 33,2 cm - 14 3/8 x 13 in

Fernand ALLARD L'OLIVIER (1883-1933) Fernand ALLARD L'OLIVIER was born in 1883 in Tournai and died on September 6, 1933 in Yanongé (Congo). He was part of the Africanists who were active in the 20th century, the so-called later years. They portrayed the beauty of the African tribes and emphasized the ethnic differences between peoples. By painting indigenous people with their scars, jewelry, hairstyle, color and arms they created authentic images. This type of realistic painting, which was descriptive and post-impressionist, boomed in Congo until the end of the colonial period.

First trip to Congo
In 1928 Allard l'Olivier traveled to the Belgian Congo for the first time to make a set of paintings in behalf of the Belgian government. These paintings would be placed in the Hall of Honour of the Congolese pavilion at the world exhibition in Antwerp in 1930. Following the advice of the director Genval, who worked for the colonial propaganda, Allard l'Olivier traveled to Congo in 1928 for the first time via the African east coast, so that he could study his subject locally.
In Dar es Salaam, where most European packet boats docked, he took the train to Kigoma and arrived in Bukavu, on the West shore of Lake Kivu. He had a pleasant stay, filled with work and plans for the future.
In Bukavu Allard l'Olivier portrayed the locals. Some (women) portraits with multicolored clothes almost seemed to have an Egyptian influence. The first drawings and sketches were exhibited in Elizabeth City and had such success that they were sold out within the hour.
The artist then went by train to a second exhibition in the neighboring town Jadot City. He used a wagon as residence and painting studio. This way he could easily move across the vast railway network with all his painting materials.
On his return to Belgium, Allard l'Olivier had an abundant collection of paintings, sketches and watercolors of dancing witches, Tutsi chiefs, magicians, fishermen and women at work. With this collection the Brussels art dealer Isy Brachot organised a major exhibition in 1929 in his "Galeries des Artistes Français". The exhibition was a huge success.
Allard l'Olivier sent out 12 sketches to the colonial administration that would form the basis for future work on the World Expo. Eventually eight monumental figures and nine scenes were exhibited. The scenes were supposed to display the course of a day at Lake Kivu. These works would later end up in the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp.

Second journey
In November 1932 Allard l'Olivier embarked in Antwerp for a second trip to Congo. He went to prepare illustrations for an album to encourage tourists to travel to Congo.
He traveled to Katanga through the Kingdom of Bakuba via Luluaburg, Cabinda, Usumbura, Ituri and Uele. He was invited by the king of Kuba to a big party where chiefs in full regalia with 500 red-painted women were present.
Satisfied with what he had achieved, he prepared for his return and wrote a last letter to his mother: « Ici , c’est la fantaisie, la sauvagerie savoureuse du moment. On se sent loin de tout et près des accidents toujours possibles. La forêt m’entoure ; 500 kilomètres de mystère. »
On June 9, 1933, he went aboard the tugboat Flandre. The slow pace and lengthy stopovers allowed him to paint scenes, portraits and landscapes. But on the way back to Leopoldville, he hit a lamp with his head and fell into the dark and muddy water. He was carried away by the current and three days later his body was found at Yanonge. He was buried on the spot in the Protestant mission. His death caused great consternation in the Belgian colonial circles.

Source : https://www.itg.be/E/the-artwork-of-allard-lolivier

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