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 Ghislaine de Menten de Horne  (1905 - 1995)



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Lived/Active: Belgium/France      Known for: portrait, landscape and floral still life painting, linocut, monotype

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Ghislaine de Menten de Horne
An example of work by Ghislaine de Menten de Horne
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Ghislaine de Menten de Horne was a Belgian noblewoman and artist.  Her artwork comprises some 300 to 400 oil paintings, as many sketches and drawings, some seventy prints including woodcuts, monotypes and linocuts and twenty figural sculptures. Her style ranged from academic realism to naive and abstract-symbolic art.

Before World War II, she painted mostly portraits, landscapes, city views and female nudes. As time passed, she increasingly painted from life.  After the war, she painted many floral arrangements and portraits of persons in the Belgian Congo, where she had settled.

Ghislaine de Menten de Horne was the daughter of knight Adelin de Menten de Horne (1876-1960) and Marcelle Pirlot (1883-1975). They first lived in the ancestral castle from 1735 in Meerhout, near Antwerp, before the couple to Ixelles, Brussels, moved. There, in 1907, her eldest sister Christiane was born, and Ghislaine was born in 1908. The marriage of Adelin and Marcelle was very difficult. Eventually they each went their own way, leaving neglected children to pursue their own interests.

The life of Ghislaine was that of a woman born into an aristocratic family, who - against the complete indifference of her parents and later her husband - her painting talents deployed. Two themes dominated her life: the search for the pure aesthetics and the desire for freedom. These themes formed the basis of her experiments with different styles of painting and engraving and sculpting and her active participation in the Resistance against the German occupiers.  Her mother, Marcelle Pirlot, spent most of his time in Paris where she, a very beautiful and elegant, but selfish woman, had great success in the Parisian nightlife. Ghislaine's father was busy with his career in the Belgian army and with his horses.

With this dysfunctional marriage of her parents, Ghislaine at the age of eight (1916) ended up in a school in Paris, after which she moved from one public school to another including ones in Lausanne and Bruges. In Lausanne, she attended the boarding school "Les Fougeres" and there had her first art lessons, which were in graphics including linocuts. A line etching view of a canal, signed and dated 1925, proves how early she was working with this technique.

In 1928 Ghislaine moved to Paris and moved in with her mother. She studied briefly at the Académie Julian, where her first lessons were in oil painting. At the same time she took wood carving at the Ecole des Beaux Arts.  She found classes there very disappointing because of little supervision by teachers. 

In 1929, having had a falling out with her socialite mother, Ghislaine went to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, celebrating her twenty-first birthday during the crossing. In Brazil, she made some oil paintings, and in the autumn of 1929 returned to Paris. Back in the French capital, she studied briefly at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiere near the Luxembourg Gardens.  However, she suffered from malaria, which she had gotten in Brazil, and spent time at a spa in Montana, Switzerland. In May 1931 Ghislaine went back to Paris and studied painting and wood carving in the studio of painter and engraver Paul Bornet (1878).  In the period 1929 - 1931, she created a large number of prints. Tensions with her mother persisted, and at age 24, Ghislaine left Paris for Brussels, where she attended the "Academie Royale des Beaux Arts".

In 1935 she became friends with Paul Valery and illustrated with sixteen aquatints the Menten a luxury edition (a reprint) of his poems La Jeune Parque.  She also studied painting with Marie Butcher-of Gilse and produced many landscapes and portraits.

During the Second World War, Ghislaine worked for the Resistnace in Belgium, and after the war married her Resistance colleague, Max Londot. For her Resistance work, she received
several awards: Knight of the Order of the Crown (with palm), the Cross of 1940 (with palm), the Medal of the Resistance, the Commemorative Medal 1940-1945 and the Cross, and the British Political Prisoner "Medal In The Cause Of Freedom".

After the war, the couple never put a foot in Germany and moved to the Belgain Congo where her husband ran a coffee and tea plantation and where she was very unhappy because of his authoritarian nature and lack of support of her artistic talents.  In 1960, the couple moved to Brussels and divorced. She continued painting and drawing, but was much inhibited by osteoarthritis of the hands.

At the end of her life, she tried to set up a studio and business for electroplating art. But the company turned into a financial disaster, and only on the condition that she could maintain her independence, did she accept financial help from Max Londot.

Ghislaine de Menten de Horne died in the University Hospital of Esneux on September 19, 1995. Of her it was written that she was an idealiste, a free-spirited woman who lived for art and thinking about life, faith and love.

Translation, -

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Ghislainde de Menten de Horne was the daughter of Chevalier Adelin of the Castle of Meerhout (Belgium). She lived in Brussels as artist-painter. In the night of 23 to 24 June 1942 a radio-telegraphist from London by the name of Max Londot was dropped over the Belgian Skies and ended up with a member of the Intelligence Service, Ghislaine de Menten de Horne in Brussels.

Together, they care for radio communication with London! Because she has to hide him every day in another location, she becomes very close to him and becomes his personal "aide-de-camp", in so far that she precisely knew how the Intelligence Service worked and how it could be saved in case of a raid. She is also responsible for communication between members of the Service (and the Resistance) in Brussels and takes daily messages around the city.

She was arrested by the Gestapo on October 21 and December 3,1942 and interrogated at their headquarters at the Place Rouppe. She was finally released on March 9, 1943, because - as she told me once - she kept on playing the "stupid innocent aristocratic artist who knew nothing but paint".

She married Max Londot on November 25,1945, not because she loved him, but she thought it her duty to stay at his side after all these years of intense working together to defeat the Germans. The marriage was a disaster, and Ghislaine dedicated the rest of her life to "Art"!

She was indeed a remarkable person who - as she told me - fought for our LIBERTY !

BBC Home blog, WW2 People's War

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