The Meetjesland in the north of East-Flanders, Belgium

Eeklo's Celebrities

Eeklo saw the birth of quite a few celebrities.  Here follow just a few of them.
 

Theodore Bernard De Heuvel was born in Eeklo on 16 February 1917 the son of Franciscus-Antonius De Heuvel, who made tobacco products.
Theodore was a painter of  portraits and landscapes.  Among his first teachers were Serafien De Vliegher and Edward Cornelis in Eeklo and Jozef Geirnaert in Ghent.
Theodore was a great and prolific painter.  His paintings can be admired in the churches of Adegem and Eeklo.  They are part of the collections of Europe's great museums and in private hands.
Theodore died in 1906.
 

Julius De Hulsters was an actor and poet.  He was born in Eeklo on 21 October 1857.  He was only 12 years old when he received his first role in a play called "Het Strijkijzer" (The Iron) by Pieter Geiregat.  A few years later "De Eecloonaar" published his first writings.
In 1876 he had moved to Brussels where he became a member of  the "Peter Benoit's Kring", a men's choir that he served loyally for many years to become an honorary member in 1900.  As a member of "De Noordstar", an amateur theater troupe, he took part with great success in many theater and eloquence contests.
He also wrote more than 40 short stories and about 300 poems.  Many of these stories and poems were published in "De Noordstar" the publication of the theater troupe of the same name but also in "Morgenrood" (Morning Red) of Ledeberg, near Ghent and "De Waarheid" (The Truth) of Kortrijk (Courtrai).
And all this while he worked full time in the Administration Department of the Third Division of the Brussels' police.  He retired from the police force in 1907.  But when WW I broke out he resumed service with the Police of Vorst (Forest), now part of Greater Brussels.  He was for many years the editor of "De Belgische Politie" but also of "Le Gardien de l'Ordre", two journals.  He was also the president of the mighty Police Association of Brabant, then one of Belgium's nine provinces.
The above information can be found in "De Noordstar" of November 1928 when he had already been an honorary member for many years.
And "De Noordstar" of April 1938 informs us of the death—and burial on Saturday 23 April—of Julius D'Hulsters.  We wonder when and where exactly he died.

 

Serafien De Vliegher is another great Flemish painter.  He was born in Eeklo on 7 June 1806.  He was a pupil of Jozef Geirnaert.  He won a lot of prizes i.a. Brussels (1826), Ghent (1827) and Groningen in the Netherlands in 1828.  He then returned to Eeklo in triomph and was feted by the town council and the whole population.  He is counted among the founders of the Eeklo Academy (Teekenschool) and taught there for a while.  He also taught at the Academy of Aalst (Alost).  Like all great artists of his day he spent a lot of time in Paris but most of his works are in Aalst where he died on 14 March 1848.

The Romantic painter Antoon Depoorter was also born in Eeklo in 1812.  His uncle taught him the job of cooper.  But he went to art classes in Eeklo taught by Serafien De Vliegher and from 1831 to 1833 he was a pupil of Geirnaert in Ghent.  He received financial help from Eduard Van Damme, a lifelong friend.  In 1830 when Belgium fought the Dutch to gain its independence Depoorter put a portrait of the Dutch king in his workshop.  A patriotic crowd came and destroyed everything.  In 1833, out of funds, he had to abandon his studies in Ghent and he went to Lille where he became a pupil of Souchon.  In 1834 he painted the portrait of Karel Lodewijk Ledeganck, Eeclo's best known poet and writer.  He then went to Delaroche in Paris and from there to Rome, where he met with other Flemish painters such as Nicaise De Keyser, Eduard De Vigne and Jean Baptist Maes, the latter two from Ghent.  Maes had married an Italian and lived in Rome since 1830.  Depoorter stayed in Rome with Eduard De Vigne, Felix' brother and with the sculptor Pierre De Vigne.  With them he also went to Napels and Capri.  In spite of the best care of his friend Miss Zoë Lepers he died in Lille on 22 november 1841 shortly after his return from Italy.

On 27 August 1790 the portrait painter Jozef Geirnaert was born in Eeklo.  In 1830 like Antoon Depoorter, another well known painter from Eeklo, Geirnaert thought it wise, because of his sympathies for the Orange cause, to leave for a while for The Hague. 
He had a lot of success with his household scenes but he was also a great portrait painter.
In 1856 King Leopold I, 25 years on the Belgian trone came to visit Ghent and its Museum of Fine Arts and its exhibition of paintings.  The King, very happy to have seen so many remarkable paintings asked that some of the painters be presented to him.  Geirnaert, De Heuvel, Canneel and the Devigne were honored on this occasion.  Geirnaert settled down in Ghent where he eventually died on 21/3/1859.  His son Theodoor was also a remarkable painter of animals.

Jacques Louis Godinau was born in Eeklo on 1 January 1811 the son of a bailiff (writ-server) from Ghent.  His mother, Bernardina Francisca Colleman was from Watervliet.  From 1822 he took the courses of Jozef Geirnaert at the Academy in Ghent.  In 1835 he was awarded the Second Prize of the Painting Salon in Ghent.  He then went to Paris where he became a pupil of the well known portraitist Paul Delaroche.  His paintings were exhibited in Ghent (1838), Köln (Cologne) (1839) and Bruges (1840).  He specialized in household scenes and portraits.  From 1842 until 1870 he taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent where he died on 7 April 1873.

Willy Jocqué was born in Eeklo on 30 September 1900.  From a very early age he wanted to paint and preferred the company of Arthur Locufier on his trips through our Meetjesland rather than his father's taylor business.  He was mostly an autodidact.  His first exhibition, in Ghent in 1928, was a success and a great encouragement for him.
Like Theodoor De Heuvel he was attracted by the landscapes of Bretagne where he was influenced by Van Gogh and Servaes.  He became better known in higher circles and had an exhibition in Paris in 1939.
Little by little he exhibits his works in all important Belgian Art Galleries.  Many of his works are in Belgian and foreign museum collections.
Many of his aquarels of life in Ostend, the beach, the port and the race course are masterpieces.
He died on 1 April 1960 in Den Haan on the Belgian coast.

Polydoor Lippens was born in Eeklo in 1810 and he died there in 1889.  In 1850 he discovered the vibration mechanism for the electrical bell.  He studied engineering in Brussels and in Paris.  He taught the children of King Leopold I.  He was also very interested in the upcoming art of photography and had his own darkroom in Brussels.

Arthur Locufier was born in Eeklo on 26 January 1871 the son of Angelus Bernard Locufier and Francisca Catherine Ecrevisse.  She was the daughter of writer and justice of the peace Pieter Ecrevisse.  Arthur's parents were art lovers and his talent showed at an early age.  He studied at the Academy of Dendermonde and he won a first prize for painting.
He was a very optimistic, humble and charming man.  He didn't take part in exhibitions and worked as if he were a mere amateur.  His landscapes were very refined but he was also a superb portraitist.
Arthur was married to Alice van Canegem on 12 July 1902.  They had one son Karel, born in 1904, married to Marthe Van Peteghem.  Karel and Marthe had 2 daughters.
Arthur's death in Eeklo on 17 December 1915 was a great loss for the city of his birth.

By far the most famous son of Eeklo is Karel Lodewijk LedeganckHere we have a page on this great Meetjesland poet.
 

Our sources: we are indebted to Mr. Paul Van de Woestijne for information on Jacques Godinau, Jozef Geirnaert, Antoon Depoorter and Serafien De Vliegher in a very interesting article entitled "Meetjeslandse Schilders in de Memoires of J.B. Lybaert" (Meetjesland Painters in the Memoirs of J.B. Lybaert) and published in the first issue of 2003 of an excellent quarterly publication called "Heemkundige bijdragen uit het Meetjesland" (Regional Contributions from the Meetjesland).
Oskar Lippens wrote about Arthur Locufier in "The work of deceased painters from Eeklo" ("Werken van overleden Eeklose schilders"), Eeklo 1970.  See also here this fine website where you may find information on the genealogy of Arthur Locufier.
Wilfried Steeghers wrote in the same brochure about Theodoor De Heuvel.
Achiel De Vos wrote in the same work about Willy Jocqué.

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