'Playing with the Seesaw', oil on panel painting by Coomans

By Coomans, Pierre Olivier Joseph (Belgian, 1816-1889)


This charming work, depicting children playing in a classical Roman setting, is a superb demonstration of the Aestheticism of its artist, Pierre Coomans.


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Coomans was an important painter and illustrator from Brussels, who remains today one of Belgium’s most celebrated painters of landscapes, history scenes, and genre works. Noted for his Academic style—one comparable to artists such as Leighton and Alma-Tadema—Coomans’ works are often set in classicised settings, with the forms of his subjects executed in a clear and precise manner.

During the late 1850s, Coomans and his wife relocated to Naples, which allowed him to visit the ruins of Pompeii on the slopes of Vesuvius. These visits inspired Coomans and would change his subsequent style: henceforth, the setting for Coomans’ works was classically informed. The present work is emblematic of this change: the painting portrays a typical genre scene, but does so in a distinctly classical environment.

The painting depicts four young children playing with a makeshift seesaw in a classical setting: the clothing is informed by Roman history and archaeology, as is the fabric of the room, from its tiled floor to its painted walls.

The painting, oil on panel, is contained within a carved giltwood frame with a wooden slip and artist label. The work is signed lower left ‘Joseph Coomans 1880’.

Frame: Height 57cm, width 76cm, depth 5cm
Panel: Height 34cm, width 54cm, depth 0.5cm


Artist / Maker
By Coomans, Pierre Olivier Joseph (Belgian, 1816-1889)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
Late 19th Century
Academic, Figurative Art
Giltwood, Oil on Panel
Gold, Multi-coloured


57 cm / 22.4 inches
76 cm / 29.9 inches
5 cm / 2 inches


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