Constantin Émile Meunier

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Meunier, Constantin Émile


Born Apr. 12, 1831, in Etterbeeck, near Brussels; died Apr. 4, 1905, in Ixelles, a suburb of Brussels. Belgian sculptor and painter.

Meunier was a pupil of his brother, J. B. Meunier; he also studied under F. J. Navez at the Academy of Arts in Brussels. After 1851 he became well known as a sculptor of the academic school, but he soon devoted himself to painting. Through the influence of C. de Groux, G. Courbet, and F. Millet, realistic elements became predominant in Meunier’s work, particularly in his paintings on religious and historical themes. Meunier’s visits to the industrial areas of Belgium and Spain in the late 1870’s and early 1880’s interested him in a new theme—the laborers and their daily work (the many-figured triptych The Mine, c. 1878, Meunier Museum, Brussels).

In the mid-1880’s, Meunier took up sculpture again. In his representations of workers, he imparted a certain heroicism to the theme of labor (The Hammerer, 1885; The Stevedore, 1905 —both bronze, Meunier Museum) and expressed the burden of capitalist oppression (The Puddler, bronze, 1886, Museum of Ancient Art, Brussels). Meunier’s sculptures are characterized by generalized and often allegorical images, a factual representation of details, sharply graphic silhouettes, and a picturesque treatment of the bronze surface. Beginning in the 1880’s, Meunier worked on his Monument to Labor (completed after Meunier’s death and unveiled in Brussels in 1930). Meunier greatly influenced the development of 20th-century realist art, which was closely associated with the labor movement.


K. Men’e. [Album. Text by O. D. Nikitiuk.] Moscow, 1960.
Pierard, L. C. Meunier. Brussels, 1937.
Christophe, L. C. Meunier. Antwerp, 1950.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.