Petrus van Schendel

Dutch - Belgian


Artist's Biography & Works For Sale


“Monsieur Chandelle” (“Mr Candle”) was the fitting nickname given to Dutch painter Petrus van Schendel. Famed for his chiaroscuro technique, his work was influenced by the painters of the Dutch Golden Age, most notably Godfried Schalcken (1643-1706). Van Schendel specialised in evening and night-time market scenes. He produced many paintings that depict stallholders and their wares illuminated by the warm glow of candles and lamps, with the wider street scene bathed in silver moonlight and the surrounding buildings deep in shadow – a romantic evocation of a world before modern street lighting. He is also known for his portraits and candlelit interiors.

Van Schendel was born in Terheijden near Breda. He studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp from 1822 to 1828 under the tutelage of history painter Mattheus Ignatius van Bree (1773-1839), where he received a gold medal for Perspective. Soon after that he moved to Amsterdam, then lived in Rotterdam from 1832 to 1838, and The Hague from 1838 to 1845, finally settling in Brussels in 1845, where he was to remain for the rest of his life. He produced work in various different genres, especially in the early part of his career – including historical and religious subjects, interiors and still life – and he also enjoyed notable success as a portrait painter. However, by the time he settled in Brussels he had found his niche and was becoming internationally known for his night-time and evening market scenes with their extraordinary lighting effects. With a keen interest in new technologies, towards the end of his working life he also began experimenting with the use of electric light.

Van Schendel was elected as a member of Amsterdam's Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1834. His work was widely shown during his lifetime – in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, The Hague, and further afield in Paris, London and Manchester – and he received many medals, including a gold award in Brussels for his 'Market by Moonlight' in 1845. His paintings found favour with royalty, and were purchased by King Willem II of the Netherlands, King Leopold I of Belgium and members of the Russian imperial family among others. In 1845, Queen Victoria acquired van Schendel's 'Market Scene by Night' (dated 1844) through art dealer Chrétien Jean Nieuwenhuys as a birthday gift for her husband Prince Albert. The recorded purchase price was £200. This work, part of the Royal Collection, is in the Cumberland Art Gallery at Hampton Court Palace.

It is documented that van Schendel married three times and had fifteen children in all – thirteen of them by his first wife, Elizabeth. (Some sources record the date of her death as 1850, others as 1851.) Van Schendel himself died in 1870.

His works can be found in many public collections, including Amgueddfa Cymru / National Museum Wales, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council, Dover Collections, the Ferens Art Gallery (Kingston-upon-Hull), The Foundling Museum (London), Leighton House Museum (London), Northampton Museums and Art Gallery, the Royal Collection, St Helier Town Hall (Jersey), The Wilson (Cheltenham), and in museums in Amiens, Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Groningen, The Hague, Hamburg, Hanover, Leipzig, Melbourne, Montreal, Munich, Nice, Rotterdam and Stuttgart.

We also wish to purchase original paintings by Petrus van Schendel so if you wish to sell one, please contact us.