Constantin Meunier (Belgian, 1831-1905)

Meunier was a Belgian sculptor and painter and a major European Social Realist of the late-nineteenth century. He studied sculpture by the age of 14 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels. He switched to painting for almost thirty years as he believed it could portray social issues more directly. After visiting some mines and factories, Meunier demonstrated his passion in humanitarian issues by portraying laborers, like the miners of the Borinage, dockworkers of Antwerp, metalworkers, and women. He was sent to Spain where he focused on religious imagery before returning to Belgium and portraying social themes in bronze sculpture. He created monuments to great figures, as well as workers, with empathy and respect for his subjects that penetrated into his audiences.