Dear Mr. Van Houtte:
You’ve been gone since 1876 ...I'll never be able to speak with you about your artwork.
Until yesterday, I didn’t know anything about you or even know your name.
I found your name and company at the bottom of 6 double-matted, framed botanical prints. Their colors and level of detail intrigued the “inner artist” in me and I wanted to know your story.
The internet is something we use these days to communicate and discover information from around the world. I found out the following about you.
You were from Ieper (a Belgian municipality located in the Fleming province of West Flanders)...this is far, far away from where I reside today.
When you were growing up there in the 19th century, did you also enjoy the poppy fields of Flanders?Those fields became famous in a poem “IN FLANDERS FIELDS:, written after John McCrae witnessed the death of one of his friends, Lt. Helmer…the Flowers were surrounding the battlefields and cemeteries
In Flanders fields the poppies blowBetween the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
During the Belgian Revolution of 1830 you fought the troops sent by the Kings of the Netherlands to defeat the mutineers in Brussels. During that event, you met Charles Rogier (who soon became secretary of state). While working with him for a short (you spent time at the Brussels botanical garden whenever it was possible).
I found it very interesting that YOU created the first Belgian horticultural magazine entitled L’Horticulteur Belge (1833-1838).
You traveld to Brazil to gather botanical specimens. It is shown you
created your own company in Gendbrugge (near Ghent) and became famous as a horticulturist, a publisher of luxuous horticultural magazine (Flore des serres et des jardins de l’Europe) and became founder of a horticultural school (1849). Wow, you were BUSY even BEFORE you
became the mayor of Gendbrugge.
You even established the genus Rogiera (Rubiaceae) after your old friend and minister helped you more than once during your long career. When you died in 1876, you were one of the most renowned nurseryman of Europe!