Alfonse Van Besten’s Dreamy Autochromes (1910-1915)

Belgian painter Alfonse Van Besten (1865-1926) embraced technology, utilising innovative color processes to transfer black and white photographs into vivid, at times lurid autochromes. The tableaux of his autochromes (a technology patented by the Lumière brothers in 1903 and the first colour photographic process developed on an industrial scale) are often bucolic and romantic. Demure ladies and girls pose in flowers and robes. Men in the glade play at dressing up in togas, revisiting moments from ancient history. We sense a class divide. Whilst the clean-complexioned relax in lush surrounds, working women are elbow-deep in laundry; men is dark, color-resistant overalls unload a barge.

 

Alfonse Van Besten, 1912 - autochromes

Alfonse Van Besten Modesty 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Grecian times, 1912, autochome

Alfonse Van Besten, Grecian times, 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Symphony in white, 1912 autochrome

Alfonse Van Besten, Symphony in white, 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Van Besten painting in his garden, autochrome

Alfonse Van Besten, Van Besten painting in his garden

Alfonse Van Besten, Washing and bleaching

Alfonse Van Besten, Washing and bleaching

Alfonse Van Besten, Winter at Brugge unloading barge c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Winter at Brugge unloading barge c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Winter scene in park c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Winter scene in park c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Young girl amidst marguerites c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Young girl amidst marguerites c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Two girls picking cornflowers c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Two girls picking cornflowers c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Ancient times c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Ancient times c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Children at play c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Children at play c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Civic and military garb c. 1911

Alfonse Van Besten, Civic and military garb c. 1911

Alfonse Van Besten, Dahlias c. 1913

Alfonse Van Besten, Dahlias c. 1913

Alfonse Van Besten, Garden view c. 1914

Alfonse Van Besten, Garden view c. 1914

Alfonse Van Besten, Farmers on cart c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Farmers on cart c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Groupe antique composition c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Groupe antique composition c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Innocence c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Innocence c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Windmill at twilight c.1913

Alfonse Van Besten, Windmill at twilight c.1913

Alfonse Van Besten, Still life with brown fruit c.1913

Alfonse Van Besten, Still life with brown fruit c.1913

Alfonse Van Besten, Shepherd’s boy c.1913

Alfonse Van Besten, Shepherd’s boy c.1913

Alfonse Van Besten, Mime in love # 2 c.1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Mime in love # 2 c.1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Mime in love # 1 c.1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Mime in love # 1 c.1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Pink and green wigs c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Pink and green wigs c. 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Musing (Mrs. A. Van Besten) c. 1910

Alfonse Van Besten, Musing (Mrs. A. Van Besten) c. 1910

Alfonse Van Besten, Nero playing the harp, 1912

Alfonse Van Besten, Nero playing the harp, 1912

Copyright: Florent Van Hoof’s excellent website on Belgian Autochromists