Written by: Bruno De Roover
Illustrations: Luc Cromheecke
De Tuin Van Daubigny – Comic Book Review
One of Vincent van Gogh’s last paintings, The Garden Of Daubigny, which he painted in the summer of 1890 was inspired by a man he admired a lot, Charles-François Daubigny, even though van Gogh only knew him through his paintings. The man is little known now, but because of his urge to be outside and his constant quest for the right colors to paint his landscapes, before they changed again, he was an important example for the group of painters who later came to be known as impressionists.
Charles-François Daubigny comes to Valmondois as a little boy, as the Parisian air makes him ill. Even though this means that he can’t grow up with his parents, he is happy enough, as he can enjoy nature every single day. As he gets older, Daubigny tries to make a living as a painter, and even goes to Italy to learn from the greatest. He soon runs out of money though, and comes back to France with nothing left. Because of the connections he built during his studies, he is quite known in the Parisian art world and even goes to the Salon, even though his work isn’t displayed there. He does find inspiration at the Salon though, and he sets out into nature to try and catch the movement and colorific splendor it offers.
Life goes on, and a few years later he is married and father of two. Nature is now the subject of all of his paintings, and thus he often sets out into the country and doesn’t come back for days, until his work is finished. He is one of the lucky ones who can live off the money he earns from selling his paintings, be it not particularly handsomely. Nonetheless, the older he gets, the more time he spends surrounded by nature and his painting tools.
Bruno De Roover built up the story in nine stages, which all present a different time in Daubigny’s life. This makes sure that in only fifty-five pages, his whole life story can be told in a rather fast fashion, yet clear, and with enough time to also stop and enjoy the nature Daubigny is always searching for, as the story and the illustrations really alternate. Parts of the story are also told by Daubigny himself, through letters that he writes to his dear friend Geoffroy. It’s another fun way to get some tempo in the story, without it coming across as too hasty.
The illustrations by Luc Cromheecke look a bit cartoon-esque, and the solid colors and not very detailed backgrounds only exaggerate that feeling. Nonetheless, they give a good hint at what Daubigny must have seen in real life, especially the few full page illustrations.
De Tuin Van Daubigny tells the story of Charles-François Daubigny, now not so known himself, but his garden captured forever on canvas by Vincent van Gogh. It’s fun to see that van Gogh’s painting in return was an inspiration for this comic book, which is both informative as well as relaxing. As far as we’re concerned: an hour well spent.