In this early work ‘Puberteit’ (‘Puberty’), the sculptor tries to represent the simplicity, purity and unsophisticated quality of the young female body. In that aspect it gives, in comparison with his other works, a distinct vision on female nudes. ‘Puberteit’ was the wedding present of Ernest Wijnants to his good friend, the painter Ernest Albert. Albert in his turn painted a portrait of Ernest Wijnants around 1940.

The same purity emanates from ‘Slavinnetje’, facing it. Yet this statue also expresses the idea of servile subjection.

WIJNANTS Ernest (1878-1964)

Ernest Wijnants was a wood carver in the furniture industry in Mechelen. He got his education at the Academy of Mechelen and from 1906 onwards in Brussels, where his first individual exhibition took place in 1911. He was appointed teacher at the Academy for Fine Arts of Antwerp in 1926 and taught at the National High institute for Fine Arts in Antwerp from 1931 onwards. He got several awards: the ‘Edmond Picard Prize’ (1926) and the ‘Grote Prijs der Plastische Kunsten’ (1938). In 1936 he designed the Belgian one franc coin which remained in circulation until 1952. Wijnants was a member of the Royal Flemish Academy for Science, Literature and Fine Arts (1938) and his work was frequently exhibited in Belgium and abroad.


Kunst in de Stad, May 20th 1989