The Artist Birthday Series

Xavier Mellery

It was in his drawings above all that this realism attained a rare degree of poetry, revealing l’âme des choses (the soul of things), the invisible behind the visible in the familiar, day-to-day world of his house and garden. The elements of silence and secrecy, together with his internalized perception of the world had a crucial influence on his friend and fellow painter, Fernand Khnopff.

c. 1889

In a less introverted, more public domain, Mellery sought to create an allegorical art in which classically-inspired figures, set against flat, golden backdrops and frequently accompanied by texts, expanded universal ideas or truths. Such works, greatly influenced by his visit to Italy in 1871 and a subsequent trip to Germany, Switzerland and Austria in 1887, were generally conceived on a monumental scale as programs for major public decorative cycles. While Mellery never realized this ambition, these works were exhibited in reduced version, both at Sâr Péladan’s Salon de la Rose+Croix in Paris in 1897, and in Brussels.

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