Anna Boch, a life dedicated to light
Anna Boch was the first Belgian artist to use the “plein air” technique. She was an impressionist, later a luminist, and a Belgian patron of the arts. She was born on 10 February 1848 in Saint-Vaast, the second child of Frédéric Victor, the founder of the Boch factory. Throughout her life she had a great love of the piano. Despite this, she devoted most of her life to painting.
In 1883, the Groupe des XX, an anti-academician avant-garde movement, was set up in Brussels. The driving force behind it was Octave Maus, an art critic and cousin of Anna, who also joined two years later. Her work was mainly influenced by the Ghent artist Theo Van Rysselberghe. He taught her to inject even more light into her paintings. The young painter opted for neo-impressionism. She joined Les XX together with Félicien Rops, and became the champion of the impressionist movement in Wallonia. During her travels in France, she was influenced by Seurat and Monet. However, on her return, this humble artist from La Louvière met with scant approval from her contemporaries. In this period, she also became friends with James Ensor, who went on to depict her in his painting Russian Music. This was immediately followed by a pointillist period.
She took care of young artists, such as a friend of her brother Eugène Boch, Vincent van Gogh, whose talent she admired. She purchased The Red Vineyard from him for 400 French francs, the only work Van Gogh sold during his lifetime.
Following her death, Anna Boch’s collection was sold at auction, and it was her last wish that the proceeds of the sale be donated to elderly artists in need.
You can see her work at the Fin-de-Siècle Museum in Brussels and at the Wiertz Museum in Ixelles or on this website.