Jacques Van Melkebeke is known throughout the world by devotees of the Belgian comic strip Tintin. After Melkebeke’s career as an easel painter had finished he became one of the illustrators and writers along with the legendary Hergé of this iconic comic book character.
Melkebeke was born Brussels in 1904 and as a young boy was a friend of Jean Laudy who would also become a painter of note. World War One soon interrupted his childhood but at the extraordinary early age of twelve Melkebeke got a job writing a comic strip for the ‘Le Soir Jeunesse’, a children’s supplement to the daily newspaper Le Soir. After a brief period of art study at the Academy of Sint-Josse-ten-Node in Brussels he embarked on a career as a professional artist.
During the late 1920’s and 1930’s Melkebeke produced paintings of a figural nature with a leaning towards Modernism. From the late 1930’s until his death he concentrated his efforts on his illustrating and writing.
This particular example of his easel painting is his earliest known composition painted at the age of twenty two. It clearly shows a knowledge of the work of the seventeenth century Flemish painters with its vanitas elements and similarities to their depictions of the Temptation of Saint Anthony.