Georges Averhals

Belgian painter and etcher who in the short span of his active life contributed greatly to art in the Rupel region. Hence this biography of his life and work.


Georges Averhals, son of Celina Biscop and Louis Averhals, is a Belgian painter and etcher, born in Schelle, May 14, 1906, and deceased in Geel, May 12, 1975. He was the eldest of four children, two girls and two boys.


Georges Averhals and family.

  He married Gerardina Slieker on August 1, 1931 in Schelle. She was of British nationality and had come over from England in 1927. From this marriage were born two daughters, in 1936 and 1942.  



The appointment of her father, Johan Slieker, as superintendent in the glassworks "Rupel en Schelde" in Schelle came "with housing", but given his large family, no suitable accommodation could be found for them so they were housed in the manor Scherpenstein, which was demolished in 1967. They were also closely involved in the development of the Protestant community in the Rupel region, ref. a newspaper article in 1980.


Georges Averhals and Gerardina Slieker - Georges Averhals with in-laws in Scherpenstein


From age 17 Georges Averhals follows the day and evening classes at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. He achieves excellent results, as stated in the Record of Achievements, and in a certificate dated 12th August 1936 from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp:


School year 1927-1928:

- Medals of the Royal Academy of Antwerp (”1st prize day class drawing from life Torso; 1st prize day class drawing from Life Bust, 1st prize day class drawing Torsos and Fragments”).
- Lessons from Prof. J. Posenaer, Prof. Fl. De Cuyper, Prof. A. Van Neste, Prof. E. Van Mieghem, Prof. A. Proost, Prof. E. Wijnants.

- Special prize “Drawing antiques, torso or figure”: Fr. 500.


School year 1928-1929

- E- Medals of the Royal Academy of Antwerp (“1st prize Day class Painting the Figure from Life; 1st prize Day class drawing of Figures from Life; 1st Excellence Class drawing of Figures from Life”).
- Gold plated silver honours medal: drawing of figures from life, excellent, Prof. W. Stevens
- Gold plated silver honours medal, 1st prize : Professor F. Gogo, drawing of the figure from life
- Gold plated silver honours medal, 1st prize: Professor F. Gogo, painting from live model, torso.
- Lessons from Prof. A. De Roover, Prof. Fl. De Cuyper, Prof. A. Delen, Prof. E. Wijnants, Prof. L. Peeters (1st prize course in the Art of printing)
- Prizes awarded to exceptionally talented students:
- Prize of the President of the Royal Society for the promotion of Fine Arts, Painting: Fr. 1000
- Prize of drawing of live model: Fr. 500. "

- Special prize: Pieter van Engelen for painting.



In appreciation of these achievements the municipal council of Schelle organized a tribute on July 6, 1929.

Letter about the “Tribute to G. Averhals”, Schelle July 2, 1929, signed by the mayor, Camille Steenackers and the secretary, Felix Janssens

  In October 1929 he took the entrance exam to the Higher Institute for Fine Arts in Antwerp, where he spent five years attending the classes at the studio for figure painting under the direction of Professor Walter Vaes. Ref. certificate dated Antwerp, August 12, 1936, Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp.  

Certificate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts issued in Antwerp, August 12, 1936, signed by Mr. Jacques Wappers, Administrator.

Magazine De Stad, 2nd year No. 48, February 14, 1930: Article "The Education of the Artist, The Higher Institute of Fine Arts and the Royal Academy of Antwerp": "Class headed by the celebrated painter Walter Vaes". Georges Averhals in the foreground on the right.


Medals of the Royal Academy of Antwerp

Work and Life


K.K.V. Rugo
Art and Cultural Association for the Rupel  district:

From the book “Boom tussen de twee wereldoorlogen” (Boom between the two world wars) by the local historian Alex Vinck (1926-2007) shows that RUGO was founded on October 21, 1934 in "Hôtel de l'Univers" by Rik Everaerts.  Literary Ludo Van Wygaert highlighted in his opening speech the aims of the association: "to promote increased appreciation of art in the culturally neglected Rupel district and to bring into the limelight the often less exposed artists."

This foundation meeting was attended by the Boom author and folklorist Victor De Meyere, curator of the Antwerp Museum of Folklore. The first board of directors consisted of Ludo Van de Wygaert (chairman), the painter Georges Averhals (vice-chairman), the literary and author Emiel Fredrix, the painter Frans Roofthooft (treasurer), the painters René Claes and Hubert Coeck.

In the Annex to the Official Gazette no. 156 of June 5, 1937, the "Rugo Art and Cultural Association for the Rupel district" (abbreviated K.K.V. Rugo and established on October 21, 1934) in Boom was officially founded as a non-profit association, with as board members Frans Roofthooft, President, Emiel Fredrix, secretary, Gaston Moorkens, administrator, Georges Averhals and Georges Vercruysse, members of the Board of Governors.

The association aims "to bring together in a cultural organization all the artists residing in or native of the Rupel district, in order to promote their interests and boost the reputation and appreciation of the region’s fine arts. To establish a cultural outreach in the Rupel district to stimulate the inhabitants and guiding them to enjoy all things beautiful. To publish a magazine under the name "Gewas" (“Growth”) (formerly called Rugo)."



Annex to the Official Gazette no. 156 of June 5, 1937.


Annual RUGO exhibitions were organized of which the first Art Exhibition was held from April 20 to April 25, 1935. (Rugo catalog 1935).


First RUGO Art Exhibition, april 1935


Magazine "Gewas", Vol. 3, no. 3, March 1937 and announcement of the third Rugo art exhibition, from 27 March to 4 April 1937, in Boom.


Third Rugo Art Exhibition in Boom: "Gewas"
Exhibition edition, 3rd Year, May 1937, Nr. 4:
- E. Fredrix and G. Averhals included in the editorial board;
- Article about Georges Averhals by Bernard Pieters;
- Article about the first Rugo exhibition outside Boom in the AKOS gallery, Sint Niklaas Pleintje, Lange Nieuwstraat, Antwerp, by Richard De Wilde..


Academy in Boom
Founders: Georges Averhals, Georges Vercruysse and Gaston Moorkens

Ref. article in a newspaper of November 21, 1936, "Boom, The Academic Courses, an appreciative initiative, complete success, great future": "The Academic Courses started on October 1, 1936 (according to the Rugo Lustrum number on September 1, 1936) and they would grow."
A few excerpts from this article:
“The whole concept had been on our minds for quite some time but was only made public at the Second Rugo Exhibition 1936."
“Mr. G. Averhals was dedicated heart and soul to the cause, because he fully understood what a great gap these courses would fill ..." and "Mr. Averhals was therefore very motivated and enjoyed loyal cooperation from Messrs J. Vercruysse and G. Moorkens. This "triumvirate" was of one mind in their endeavour to establish their school."

In 1938, in the Annex of the Official Gazette N1079: modification of the statutes of the Academy of Fine Arts of Boom. "It will have its own board consisting of founding members Georges Averhals, Georges Vercruyssche and Gaston Moorkens; teachers Georges Averhals, also director, Georges Vercruysse and Gaston Moorkens."

The institution has a full academic program and includes sculpture, portrait and still life painting, academic drawing, decorative arts, publicity, etchings, wood and marble painting as well as theory lessons.



Newspaper November 21, 1936, "Boom, The Academic Courses" with photographs of the class marble imitation, teacher Georges Averhals.
1938, in the Annex of the Official Gazette N1079.


Teachers with students

View of the classes

Classes in portrait painting, sculpture, decorative arts - teachers Georges Averhals and Georges Vercruysse.


Academy Exhibitions

The Academy’s exhibitions are held on the premises of the municipal boys school "Centrum", Hospitaalstraat Boom, for which the local council grants its approval year by year.

Exhibitions are organized annually, the first one having been held on August 21, 1937.


Local Council's authorization July 1, 1937 - Article in "Gewas" Sept/Oct. 1937, No.4, about the Academy’s 1st Exhibition with photos taken during the inaugural speech and of a corner of the room "Still Life"
- Inaugural speech: from left to right: E. Fredrix, G. Moorkens, G. Vercruysse, G. Averhals, Education Councillor J. Van Cleemput and council member Adv. Spillemaeckers.

View of the classroom “Still Life” of teacher Georges Averhals, and a corner of classroom “Sculpture” of teacher Georges Vercruysse.

National Bank of België

  From August 2, 1937 to July 31, 1943 Georges Averhals works as an engraver at the "Nationale Bank van België" in Brussels, living in Ukkel, but remains involved in the K.V.V. Rugo and the Academy in Boom, probably until 1940.  


It goes without saying that Georges Averhals participates in the many Rugo- and Academy shows organized by both the K.V.V. Rugo and the Academy of Boom, as well as in exhibitions of other associations:

1935: Cercle Artistique (Artistic, literary and scientific circle of Antwerp), along with their masters Jef (Jules) De Bruycker and Walter Vaes, G. Averhals, J. Boone, R. De Coninck, J. Gorus,
C. Heymans, R. Malfliet and L. Schrauwen (ref. Le Matin 8/12/35)

1936: Art Institute of Chicago, USA, "fourth International Exhibition of Etching and Engraving"
1936: "Salon Quatriennal de Belgique Liège 1936 du 16 mai au 15 juin au Palais des Beaux-Arts du Parc de la Boverie, Société Royale des Beaux-Arts de Liège asbl": "Averhals Georges Drawing - Engraving - Monotypes: Neige à Ste-Anne, eau-forte, un cadre avec eaux-fortes et pointe sèche"

1937: La Gravure Originale Belge (G.O.B) 15th annual exhibition, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 20 Feb. to 3 March 1937: Georges Averhals with Herd and Along the Scheldt.
1937: Together with Georges Vercruysse participates in the exhibition in Brighton (England) "Belgian Artists", organized at the initiative of Mr. M.F. Brangwyn, honorary member G.O.B. (Gravure Originale Belge). (ref. Gewas no. 6)
1937: "Together with Georges Vercruysse in Philadelphia, USA, October." (ref. Gewas no. 6)

1938: La Gravure Originale Belge (G.O.B.) 16th annual exhibition, Cercle Artistique et Littéraire from April 12 to May 1, 1938: Georges Averhals - 4 engravings
1938: Exhibition Gallery S.A.T.I., 13 Lange Gasthuisstraat, Antwerp, from 25 November to 2 December 1938. "Etchings and Drawings G. Averhals, J. Jorus, C. Heymans, R. Malfliet, J. Vercruysse".

1939: XVIIe Exposition de la Gravure Originale Belge, Cercle Artistique et Littéraire, from April 25 to May 7: Averhals, member: with Rain, Saint-Anneke, Spring Song, Along the shore.


Exhibition Kon. Kunstverbond Antwerpen/Cercle Artistique: articles from the magazines De Stad, Ons Land, Le Matin.

Kon. Kunstverbond: exhibit with etchings and drawings:
G. Averhals, J. Boone, R. De Coninck, J. Gorus, C. Heymans, R. Malfliet, D. Naeyaert, R. Schöberg, L. Schrauwen.


Sometime in early 1940/41 he suffers a first nervous breakdown. Despite staying in an institution in Sint Niklaas, he has a second collapse from which he does not recover.
Despite multiple treatments, and finally a lobotomy (subsequently no longer allowed), Georges Averhals can no longer live at home and in 1952 is entered in the mental institution in Geel, where he dies in 1975. Yet the bond with his wife who pays him weekly visits, at times accompanied by one of his children or grandchildren, will be maintained until his death.

It is fascinating to see how his style, technique, colour palette and themes evolve. Certain landscapes create an Earthly Paradise atmosphere which sometimes varies between the real and the unreal.

Webalbum displaying art work by Georges Averhals: Most of the works shown here are currently (2015) in the possession of the family and relations. They are shown in the following order:
- Pre-1942
- Pre-1942 etchings and drawings
- Post-1942
- Works of which the present location is unknown; the old photographs shown were taken before 1940 and are at present in his home in Schelle.

There are still more art works in possession of other members of the family, but photo’s momentarily not available. Also over the years paintings and drawings have been sold, whereabouts presently unknown.


Our thanks to
* Municipality Boom, Mr. Alex Ramael, Department of Culture
* Municipality Schelle, Mr. Jan Van Hoofstat
* Heemkring Scella, Mr. Ernest Crevals, Conservator
* National Bank of Belgium, Arnold De Schepper, Central Archives
* The Very Reverend Pastor Jef Leysen, Schelle
* Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Mrs. Karine Houthuys

* Families Averhals, Boumans, Dewerse, Theuwkens, Biscop ... ..


The book *Boom tussen de twee wereldoorlogen" van Alex Vinck.


Thelma Averhals