a colony of Belgian artists who worked in the village of Sint-Maertens-Laethem, near Ghent. The first Laethem group was formed in 1898 or 1899. Its masters, the sculptor G. Minne and the painters V. de Saedeleer and G. van de Woestijne, are among the foremost representatives of symbolism and art nouveau. Their work is characterized by pessimism, mystical symbols, stylization, a devotion toward the old patriarchal times, and a love for rural Flanders and for the old Dutch painting tradition.
In the first quarter of the 20th century, the second Laethem group reworked the principles of the Laethem school. Their works were marked by tempestuous dramatic expression (C. Permeke) and by a search for subtle formal devices (G. de Smet).