The Mastery of Using Light in Petrus van Schendel’s Drawings

petrus drawing

Petrus van Schendel. With the advice of a retired army member, our artist takes a step into his painting career. Our artist, who goes to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, takes the first step to reveal incredible paintings.

petrus van schendel
Market by candlelight, 1869

Petrus Van Schendel (1806-1870) was a Dutch (Belgian) genre painter in the Romantic style who specialized in nighttime scenes, lit by lamps or candles. This led to him being known as “Monsieur Chandelle“.

Petrus van Schendel studied at the Antwerp Academy under the tutelage of Jan van Bree. Blending the romantic with the neoclassical, he specialized in Dutch market scenes at night, where he explored the subtle and theatrical effects of candle and lamplight on the human face and body.

Monsieur Chandelle

Van Schendel was clearly influenced by seventeenth-century northern masters of light, collectively known as Utrecht Caravaggisti and who included Gerrit van Honthorst (1592-1656), Hendrick Ter Brugghen (1588-1629), and Dirck van Baburen (1594/5-1624), but no doubt also by the chiaroscuro techniques of the eighteenth-century English painter Joseph Wright of Derby

Monsieur Chandelle
A Gingerbread Seller by Candlelight

He dominates the light in the darkness so strongly that it is as if the light in the works he paints warms us where we are. Without being unfair to Rembrandt Van Rijn, the master of the Dutch golden age, who is known as the painter of light and shadow, I will try to briefly introduce Petrus Van Schendel and his works.

petrus van schendel
Fish Seller, Evening Market, 1843

Born to a merchant farmer family in a village near Breda in 1806, Schendel enrolled at the Fine Arts Academy in Antwerp, on the advice of a retired officer who was impressed by his talent in the following years. As a result of the art education he received with the famous history painter Mattheus Ignatius van Bree between 1822-28, he was awarded the gold medal in the “Perspective” branch in 1828.

Then he began to make a name for himself as a portrait painter. He moved to Brussels in 1845 and published his textbooks on perspective and facial expression. So much so that some of his works were bought by King Leopold I of Belgium. Interested in the mechanics of steam engines in addition to his art, the painter even patented a device for improving the wings on steamships.

Monsieur Chandelle
The Love Letter

Schendel shows us various human lives and different dramas in each painting. Besides, I can’t decide which of the light-shadow contrasts I will describe in the painting.

The three-dimensional candlelight image and the parts illuminated by the reflection of the light are so beautifully conveyed that there is nothing more to say about the depth of the composition.

petrus van schendel
Night Market

Where Are Petrus Van Schendel Pictures?

It is possible to encounter Schendel paintings in many public collections in London, as well as in places such as the Netherlands Rijks Museum, Belgium Kortrijk Museum, Melbourne, Montreal, Munich, Nice, Rotterdam, Stuttgart. I’m also leaving a video here so you can review Schendel’s other pictures.


This article may be of interest to you: Very Realistic Drawing Examples


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