Diana Coomans


Diana Coomans (1861-1952)
Pupil of:   Joseph Coomans

The late Joseph Coomans was one of the most popular of European painters with American collectors, and the sale of his works in this country alone made him a very rich man. He was a native of Brussels, and a pupil of Professor Hasselaere at Ghent, and of Nicaise de Keyser and Baron Wappers at the Antwerp Academy. From Antwerp he removed to Paris, and going with the French army to Algiers, where he resided several years, he later traveled extensively in Italy, Turkey, Greece, and the Crimea. At this time he painted historical and portrait subjects, but in 1857 he visited Italy, and became interested in the remains of ancient Pompeii, which were then being excavated. From this time forth he took up the line of subjects which made him famous. He had two daughters, both of whom possessed remarkable artistic gifts, and who, as his pupils, became well-known painters. Some years before his death he visited America, residing here for a prolonged period, and his daughters accompanied him and became favorites in the best New York society. Both Miss Heva Coomans and her sister Diana paint the same class of objects as their father, and very much in his manner and feeling of color. In "The Pompeiian Flower Girl" is presented an extremely characteristic example of one talented daughter of a famous parent.

Miss Diana Coomans turns from Pompeii to Athens for "At the Callirhoe Spring." The fountain of Callirhoe, called the fountain of nine springs, because its waters were distributed in that number of channels, was credited with magical properties and powers, and its fluid treasure was sought with prayer and floral invocation by the maidens, to whom it was supposed to bring good fortune in affairs of the heart. The fountain, it may be added, derived its name from the daughter of the river-god Achelus, to whom it was dedicated.

Pompeii was essentially an aristocratic city. It bore pretty much the same relation to Rome that Newport does to New York. That is to say, it was the home of the wealthier class, and even its poor, who served them, were relatively well-to-do compared with the rabble of the Imperial city. The fruit-girl in Miss Coomans' picture is an instance of this.

The ancient Egyptians held their dead in the most devout reverence. Those even of the poorest were embalmed with many ceremoies, and in every wealthy house was a private temple in which the statues of the departed were worshipped. Elegiac music and songs were the accompaniment of these ceremonials. The picture by Miss Coomans represents some Egyptian princess who has lost one whom she has reverenced or loved, and to whom, as she sits in the throne chair of her house, her slaves sing the elegy to the dead.

In "Attention" Miss Coomans shows a Greek girl, who has been preparing an offer of incense and flowers to her household deity, on the terrace, and who interrupts it to watch curiously something which is occurring or some one who is passing on the street below.

[NY Times of June 19, 1952, "Miss Diana Coomans, Artist, Striken at 90"]

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Portrait of Elizabeth Cubbon
The Spinner print
Genealogy of Joseph Coomans

Three Graces
Offering to Cupid

classical maiden
Woman Sewing

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