Eugène Laermans - "Landverhuisers" /Emigrants - 1896
oil on canvas, 159 × 420 cm (62.6 × 165.4 in)
Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, Belgium
In 1894, he began to exhibit at the Salons of La Libre Esthétique. Two years later, he illustrated La Nouvelle Carthage, a novel by Georges Eekhoud, and was inspired by the book to create a triptych of paintings, “Landverhuisers” (Emigrants), that he considered his masterpiece.
Georges Eekhoud (27 May 1854 – 29 May 1927) was a Belgian novelist of Flemish descent, but writing in French.
Eekhoud was a regionalist best known for his ability to represent scenes from rural and urban daily life. He tended to portray the dark side of human desire and write about social outcasts and the working classes.
His most famous novel, La nouvelle Carthage (= New Carthago) was published in its definitive form in 1893, and many times reprinted. It has also been translated in English, German, Dutch, Russian, Romanian and Czech. The rustic Campine was in this book replaced with the brutal life of love and death in the Antwerp dockland metropolis and its dirty industry.