French Artist: Joseph-Emmanuel Van Driesten
Elegantly Dressed Parisian Lady
of the Late Nineteenth Century
by Joseph-Emmanuel Van Driesten (1853-1923)
[signed Jh. V. Driesten]
3 1/8 x 3 7/8 inches (sight)
watercolor on ivory; housed in an ornate ormolu (gilt bronze) frame
About the Artist: Born in 1853, in Lille, France, Joseph-Emmanuel Van Driesten was the eldest of five children born to Antoine-Guillaume Van Driesten of Holland and Josepha Verschaffelt of Belgium. Despite objections by his parents (his father preferred that he become a baker), he entered the École des Beaux-Artes de Lille (the School of Fine Arts of Lille), where he studied under Alphonse Colas. In 1870, at the age of 17, he entered a 7-year apprenticeship to a carriage builder in Lille by the name of Mssr. Salomon, for whom he decorated carriage doors by painting decorative symbols and the coats of arms of the wealthy individuals whom commissioned the carriages. In 1877, upon completion of his apprenticeship with Salomon, he opened his own workshop in Lille, where he continued to focus his energies on the painting of heraldic arms, having devoted himself to the study of of heraldry and heraldic law. He exhibited heraldic works in Paris as early as 1878 (where he won a gold medal at the Paris Exposition of 1878), and in Beaulieu as early as 1879. In 1882, he won a gold medal from the Société des Sciences et des Arts de Lille (the Society of Arts and Sciences of Lille) and an award from the Société Héraldique et Généalogique de France (Heraldry and Genealogical Society of France), both for elaborate heraldic drawings. In 1883, offering a testament to the high regard he was by then seen in heraldic circles, he was elected a member of the Kaiserliche und Köningliche Adler Gesselschaft (the Imperial and Royal Eagle Society) in Leipzig. In 1886, he won a silver medal in Vienna for a series of paintings of thirty-two genealogical trees outlining the ancestry of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. In 1886, Van Driesten relocated to Paris, taking up residence at 19 Rue du Poncelet. There, he offered instructional courses for ladies in both illumination (heraldic illustration, calligraphy, and the creation of decorative monograms and initials) and miniature portraiture. (It would seem that miniature portraiture was of secondary interest to him, likely something he pursued to satisfy the growing demand for high quality color portraits in Paris in the last years of the nineteenth century.) He also published two monthly magazines of art instruction: L’Enlumineu (The Illuminator), published from 1889 to 1892, and Le Coloriste Enlumineur (The Colorist Illuminator), published from 1893 to 1898. He is said to have participated regularly exhibitions of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (National Society of Fine Arts), where he exhibited both miniature portraits and heraldic works, received a total of 18 gold and silver medals. His period of flourish as a miniature portrait painter were from 1886-1998. He was active as a heraldist and heraldic illuminator for a much longer period, from 1870 until his death in 1923. Listesd by Benezit, Blättel (pages 912, 913), and Lemoine-Bouchard (page 513).