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Madou Jean-Baptiste

Jean-Baptiste Madou was a Belgian artist who was born in Brussels in 1796 and who died there in 1877. He was a painter, illustrator, lithographer and etcher. He was a popular figure best remembered as a pioneer of lithography. Madou came from a modest family but received a good education, partly due to the financial support of the Countess d'Allegambe.[1] He was a student of Antoine Brice at the Brussels Art Academy and started working in the studio of the artist Pierre-Célestin François. His father's death forced him to support the family from an early age. He made his debut in 1813 and immediately won a prize at that year's Salon. Shortly afterwards he entered government service: first at the Finance Department (1814-18) and then as a calligraphic draftsman at the topographical service of the Ministry of War, located in Kortrijk (1818-20). He was charged with drawing a border map and also became an art teacher at the military school. Meanwhile, he studied drawing and music at the local Academy. At the age of 22 he became an honorary member of the Société des Beaux Arts and was able to participate in exhibitions. Madou then moved back to Brussels to work as a typographer and (anonymous) illustrator in the lithographic studio of pioneers Marcellin Jobard and Weissenbruch. He became very adept at this burgeoning technique. He made the greatest contribution to the Voyage pittoresque dans le royaume des Pays-Bas (1822-1825). After about ten years he came out of anonymity and was able to publish a series of lithographs under his own name in Brussels, Paris and London. He was asked to portray the Dutch royal family and other personalities. He also made numerous lithographs about Belgian independence. In 1836 he won the gold medal at the Brussels Salon for La Physionomie de la société en Europe depuis 1400 jusqu'à nos jours. Meanwhile, Madou was married to Mélanie Lannuyer, a half-sister of the astronomer and statistician Adolphe Quetelet (September 4, 1833). As a result, he ended up in a distinguished environment. Around 1840 Madou was saddened to see that the lithographic publications were going downhill, which were increasingly limited to the reproduction of paintings. At the encouragement of his wife, Madou gave up lithography and became a painter himself. He was successful at the Brussels and Paris Salons with the genre painting formula. He also gained international recognition for this. He worked in the tradition of Adriaan Brouwer and Jan Steen, sometimes in collaboration with Hilaire-Antoine Kreins. Another novelty that Madou indulged in was Joseph Plateau's phenakistiscope. Together they made several ingenious discs around 1850, in which Madou could also express his burlesque side. During the same period, he became an art teacher for the royal children and a professor at the military school. Even in old age he remained very active. He decorated the walls and ceilings of his house with scenes from Jean de La Fontaine's Fables. In the years 1870-79 he made decorative panels for the castle of Ciergnon with Paul Lauters. (wikipedia)