Portrait of Hélène De Rudder-du Ménil

This rectangular bronze low-relief, signed and dated 1893, is a profile portrait of the artist Hélène du Ménil made by her husband, Isidore De Rudder. The portrait was framed by the artist himself.

Isidore De Rudder was born into a family of artists in Ghent and trained at KASK in Brussels (1869 -1879). In addition to being a trained sculptor, he was also a very versatile artist. For example, he created designs for jewellery for the goldsmith Philippe Wolfers, decorative objects for the Luppens foundry, and ceramic masks for Vermeren-Coché, Boch, and Müller. In addition, he also designed embroidery boards (large format) for his wife, Hélène du Ménil.

Hélène du Ménil; The woman behind the portrait
Hélène du Ménil (1869 – 1962) was a well-known Brussels-based artist. During her education at the Funck School, a vocational school in Brussels, she learned to sew and make clothes before she began embroidering. She married the sculptor Isidore De Rudder, who noticed her talent and drew larger compositions for her.

Her embroideries were exhibited at, among others, Cercle pour l’Art in 1895, the triennial “Salon des Beaux Arts” in 1903, and the 1907 exhibition, all in Brussels. Her work is figurative and includes numerous floral and faunal motifs, allegories and scenes inspired by mythology or legends.

The City of Brussels Museum holds a number of her embroideries such as ‘The Four Seasons’ and ‘Minerva.’
‘The Four Seasons’, purchased in 1903 by the City of Brussels, is a set of four large panels illustrating the seasons across the various stages of a woman’s life and decorated with plant and animal motifs and zodiac signs. It is a rather conservative rendering and it places women in traditional roles in the unmistakable Art Nouveau style.
‘Minerva’ refers to the goddess Minerva, the goddess of spinning and weaving, activities closely related to embroidery.

Why did we include this work in our collections?
• This work was donated to the museum by the great-grandchildren of the De Rudder-du Ménil couple.
• It is a wonderful addition to the embroidery that the museum owns by Hélène du Ménil.

Would you like to know more about this acquisition? Be sure to visit the museum. You can find more details about the work itself in the inventory sheet here available.