The Eel Fisher
The Eel Fisher


(1877 - 1943)


De Palingvisser (The Eel Fisher)

122 x 181 cm

Oil on Canvas


Gustave De Smet (1877-1943)

Gustave Franciscus De Smet was a Belgian painter. Together with Constant Permeke and Frits Van den Berghe, he was one of the founders of Flemish Expressionism. His younger brother, Léon De Smet (1881-1966), also became a painter.

Gus de Smet was born in Ghent in 1877. His father, Jules, was a set decorator and photographer. Both Gustave and his brother began working in their father's studio, then attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, where they studied under Jean Delvin. Unlike Léon, Gustave was considered to be an indifferent student.

In 1908, he and his wife followed Léon to the artists' colony in Sint-Martens-Latem. There, they initially came under the influence of luminism and the painter Emile Claus, who lived in nearby Astene. At the beginning of WWI, he and his family joined his friend Van den Berghe, and fled to the Netherlands. From 1914 to 1922, they moved about, visiting and staying at the art colonies in Amsterdam, Laren and Blaricum. His meeting with the expressionist French painter Henri Le Fauconnier (1881-1946) marked a turning point in his style which, up until then, owed much to cubism.

It was in Deurne in the late 20s, that his mixture of expressionism and cubism peaked, with a series of works depicting circus, fairground and village scenes. After his death in 1943, his house in Deurle was preserved as a local museum. Gustave De Smet’s work is part of national museum collections in Belgium and the Netherlands.