Author Talk with
Patrick Vanden Berghe
Author of Valentin Henneman (1861-1930), artist between Bruges and Bangor
Thursday, April 14th
2:00-4:00 p.m. at Boothbay Harbor Town Office
Join us in the Boothbay Harbor Town Hall Meeting Room to hear author Patrick Vanden Berghe discuss discuss the life and work of Valentin Henneman, a Belgian-born painter and ice sculptor.
Henneman received his formal training at the art academies of Bruges and Antwerp, where he studied together with Vincent Van Gogh. He settled in Bruges where he became a famous painter of portraits. Among his many subjects were noblemen, politicians, religious people and all who could at that time afford a portrait. Henneman went to France and Italy to enhance his skills. On his many trips he became acquainted with foreign artists, such as Fritz Thaulow, Ebenezer Hoeck, Arthur Watson Sparks,…
In 1904 a painting of Henneman was exhibited in the Belgian pavilion at the Louisiana Purchase World’s Fair. This proved to be the ideal occasion for Henneman to visit his brother Arthur who was living in St. Louis, Missouri. At the same time Henneman was invited by Charles Marshall Cox, a businessman from Boston, to paint portraits of him and his family. During his stay Henneman met Asa G. Randall, a painter and art teacher who was looking to start an Art Colony along the coast of Maine. In 1906 Randall and Henneman founded the Commonwealth Art Colony in Boothbay Harbor. From that year on Henneman traveled annually between Belgium and the U.S. During the summer he would teach at the colony while staying in Maine during autumn in order to make paintings he could sell in Belgium.
One of his students at the colony was Mabel Dealing from Bangor. In 1914, due to the outbreak of World War I, Henneman was forced to stay in the U.S. He eventually married Mabel and they lived at this latter’s home in Bangor. Henneman became a famous resident of Bangor, especially after he started making ice and snow sculptures, which he put up for exhibition in his garden on Main Street.
Henneman had many exhibitions, some at the Public Library of Bangor. The library acquired 7 paintings which are still on exhibit at the library. Henneman also made a bust of vice-president Hannibal Hamlin. Henneman died in May 1930 in his house in Bangor. He is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery along with Mabel and her family.
This talk will discuss this fascinating artist’s life and work, but also facts that were only recently unearthed, such as inventions by Henneman and his preoccupations with his native Belgium during World War I.
This talk draws back on more than 10 years of continuous research which led me and my wife to Bangor and Boothbay Harbor. We were able to find Valentin’s grave and our research led to the discovery of an unknown painting at the Zillman Art Museum in Bangor.
In 2022 the Historical Society of Oostkamp (the village where Henneman was born) published a book on Valentin Henneman. It consists of more than 200 pages and 200 full color pictures. Especially for English-speaking readers each chapter is concluded by an English summary.
About the author:
Patrick Vanden Berghe (1967) spent most of his youth in Oostkamp. After teaching English at Parahyangan Catholic University (Bandung, Indonesia), he returned to Oostkamp to work at the public library. Now he is head librarian at the Public Library of Pittem. He is also teaching library courses at Artevelde Hogeschool. He co-founded the Historical Society of Oostkamp where he is still a board member. His interests include arts and migration. He is married to Katrien Steelandt, who played a key role in the research on Valentin Henneman. Katrien also coordinated the Historical Society’s Growfunding Project (2021) through which a painting by Valentin Henneman was restored.
This event is not sponsored by the municipality of Boothbay Harbor, nor does it necessarily represent the values and opinions of the Board of Selectmen or the community at large.