Wednesday, May 19, 2010


One of my stops on the 'Noel Sickles Tour' of Chillicothe, Ohio, was the Carnegie Library where Sickles haunted the art stacks. My eyes were drawn toward, hanging unassumingly on the wall, what appeared to be some kind of Victorian masterpiece. The pictures I took of it were blurry, so I didn't blog about it at the time. Thankfully, we stopped again on my return trip. I was able to get better pictures and find out some information.

All I had to go on in 2007 was the name in the corner - Van Lerius. Thanks to Google, I was able to find the artist's full name and a picture of the painting. Well, sort of. Apparently this painting was important enough to make an intaglio plate engraving so that copies could be made. These copies are still being sold today. So, was that it? Was this a copy hanging on the wall? I didn't think so. The massive frame indicated age and stature. The colors of the painting do not match the colors used on the engraving, although those could have changed over time. No, I convinced myself, this was the original, whatever it was.Joseph Henri Francois Van Lerius was a Belgian painter of the 1800s. He attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, later becoming a professor there from 1854-76. He was best known for his painting of Lady Godiva. The painting above is known as 'Cinderella and Her Sisters', or sometimes just 'Cinderella'. In 1860, the painting was on display at Schau's Gallery in New York. A reviewer said it showed "all the beauties, and some of the defects, of that artist's style."1 The reviewer alludes to the engraving having been done by Atkinson in London between a previous New York exhibition and 1860. In 1861, it was at Robinson's Gallery in Philadelphia. A local magazine called it "a work of rare merit."2 According to the New York Times, it returned to Schau's later in 1861. In 1874, 'Cinderella' was one of three Van Lerius paintings representing Belgium at the International Exhibition in London. Critic Bernard Becker also raved about 'Cinderella', remarking on "the wonderful texture-painting" and calling the story "excellently told."3

The painting's provenance is unknown between 1874 and 1909, but during this time it came into the possession of A.L. Fullerton, a wealthy Chillicothean who had been on the Board of Education and the library's Board of Trustees. A report in the Scioto Gazette from February 1909 related that Fullerton gifted the painting to the library. I'm guessing Fullerton was instrumental in the library's formation, as the article eludes that he was "intimately associated" with this six year old institution.4 Now here we are, a century later, and a it's still hanging in the library, probably where it was originally placed "so it would get a good light so as to reveal its beauties."

The magic of Photoshop Elements reveals more details in Cinderella's chimney corner.

1The Crayon, New York, December, 1860
2Arthur's Home Magazine, Philadelphia, January, 1861, p.252
3Journal of the Society of the Arts, London, May 22, 1874, Bernard H Becker
4Scioto Gazette, Feb 9, 1909


dotsy said...

Matt-I am looking for information on a painting I bought. Google brought me to your blog. Might you be able to help me?

Matt Tauber said...

Dotsy - Sorry, I'm no fine art expert. A confluence of interests led me to pursuing the origins of this particular work. Maybe try a gallery?