of Le Retour de la Peche (in English, The Return From Fishing) has been dated to approximately 1870. This genre
scene (a scene that gives the viewer a peek at daily life) depicts a woman and five children gathering around a
man - presumably the father of the family - emptying out a barrel full of crayfish. The children, who are all staring with
amazement at a crayfish that has managed to crawl away, follow the cherubic style that Coomans would often instill in his
painted children. The family's dress is that of antiquity, which makes sense considering the painting's date within Cooman's
lifetime - at this point, he would be painting in a Pompeian style while he resided in Naples, Italy.
As a comparison,
another painting entitled Retour de la Peche was painted in the 19th century by Joaquin Sorolla
Bastida. In it, the painter chooses to portray another point in the fishing story - the moment when a pair of oxen are dragging
the boat to shore. He captures a moment that makes clear the story at hand, while Coomans chooses to have the viewer guess
the story by way of the painting's title and the crayfish spilling out of the barrel.
Joseph Pierre Olivier Coomans, born in 1816 in Brussels, Belgium, was known as one of Belgium's greatest 19th century
painters of genre and historical scenes, landscapes, and illustrations. He was especially known for including young cherubic
children in his paintings.
Coomans studied in Ghent and Antwerp with three of the most celebrated painters of the historical genre: Nicaise De
Keyser, Gustave Wappers and Pieter Van Hanselaere. With the Belgian army, he traveled to Algeria and then Crimea, where he
was able to see the "Orient" for the first time - this led him to paint in an orientalizing fashion. From 1856 to 1860 he
lived in Naples, where exposure to antique painting would influence and inspire his own Pompeian style. Coomans settled in
Paris in 1860, where he exhibited regularly at the Paris Salons. He died in 1889 in Boulogne-on-Seine, France.
born in 1823 in Paris, was a foremost etcher of landscapes and genre scenes. After studying with Paul-Leon Jazet in Paris,
he became known for composing engravings after the paintings of contemporary artists. Around 1860, he began to create engravings
based on his own work, and became recognized in the art world for these original etchings. He died in Paris in 1886.