Originally from Flanders, Emile Claus (1849-1924) was a master of genre painting. He began in a resolutely realistic style before adopting an increasingly impressionistic form under the influence of Monet, Sisley and even Pissarro. Although forgotten with the rise of Flemish expressionism, Emile Claus had a major influence on generations of Belgian painters, in his mastery of the effects of sun, snow and the wet colors of landscapes bathed in light.
As for many of his contemporaries, his artistic vocation did not go well with the wishes of his father, who put him on an apprenticeship as a baker. The future painter was then a railway supervisor before a friend of the family persuaded them to let him study painting at the Academy of Antwerp.
However, the romantico-mythological teaching he received there did not suit him. Émile Claus refuses to compete for the Prix de Rome saying: "I neither know nor want to paint Greeks and Romans..."
After having made several stays in Paris, he settled in Astène in a house which he baptized "Eclat du soleil". His paintings are characterized by a sense of movement and energy, and a feeling of spontaneity, without denying a certain affiliation with a form of academicism and realism, as evidenced by the influence of Jules Bastien-Lepage.
Like Claude Monet, Emile Claus painted the light of Venice, where he stayed for several months with his friend Le Sidaner in 1906 and the mists of the Thames in 1916. For the latter, the filiation is obvious, same contrast, same gradient of colors, same ghostly view of the British capital at sunset...