Musical honours painter Eugheen Van Mieghem

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The Antwerp painter Eugheen Van Mieghem 1875 – 1930 is gradually gaining popularity among the general public. Until recently he was  known mostly to art connoisseurs, but more recently interest in his work has boomed. This is confirmed by  the exhibition 'One foot in America' in Washington, the christening of the Van Mieghem containership in Japan this week, the exhibition in the Belvue Museum in Brussels and the musical of his life that is being produced in Antwerp. Actor David Verbeeck and composer Alain Reubens took on the initiative two years ago. “We are both very taken up with his work,” says Verbeeck. “In 2003 I did a performance about the Jewish immigration from Antwerp to the US. This one is a presentation of his life. Van Mieghem succeeded in capturing the social life on the Eilandje a harbour district in Antwerp during the late nineteenth, early twentieth century. This is of incredible value.” Both the artist himself and his second wife, Marguerite Struyvelt, are the main characters in the musical. Van Mieghem married Struyvelt in November 1920. Seven years later they officially separated. The musical sees Marguerite looking back on her life from her old-age home. Eugeen Van Mieghem’s first wife, Augustine Pautre, died from TB at the age of 25. She was his real muse and Van Mieghem often painted her, but never Marguerite. In the musical she asks why she never meant more to the artist, Verbeeck explains. The musical is set in the harbour and depicts the harbour environment with its jetty. ‘Marguerite S’ will be staged in Antwerp in April and May, with possible productions in other Belgian harbour cities if it enjoys a successful  run in Antwerp. An American tour is also planned.

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