- Portaels, Jean-François
- (1818-1895)The painter Jean-François Portaels was born in Vilvoorde on 30 April 1818. His father, a rich brewer, sent him to study at the Académie royale des Beaux-Arts and he also apprenticed as a pupil of François-Joseph Navez. Portaels won the Grand Prix de Rome in 1842 and subsequently traveled extensively in Europe, North Africa, and the Levant. He returned to Brussels in 1849, married the daughter of Navez, and opened a private studio school. In 1878 he secured the post of director of the Académie royale des Beaux-Arts, a goal he had long sought.Portaels executed a great number of works, including decorative paintings (found, for example, in the church of Saint-Jacques-sur-Coudenberg), biblical and oriental scenes, genre pictures, and portraits of officials and members of the fashionable set. His defining style can best be characterized as a transitional one between neoclassicism and romanticism. A major figure on the Belgian cultural scene in the 19th century, he is noteworthy especially for his role in training artists. His many pupils included Pierre-Charles van der Stappen. Portaels died in Schaerbeek on 8 February 1895.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.