Alfonse Van Besten

A. Van Besten

Enter his photogallery

Alfonse Van Besten (1865-1926) married Josephine Arnz - no children. Van Besten was a painter and took full advantage of the possibilities of the new colour process. One can see that many of his autochromes were taken with a “painterly eye” e.g. Musing (Mrs.Van Besten) and Symphony in white. It was evident that he had a very good sense of composition e.g. Musing. Looking through the three bulky trees in the foreground into the scene beyond, the eye is taken to the person above right who is looking to his left. We follow his gaze and finish down on the path. Which flies away to the left and enhances the perspective of the “tableau”.  Winter at Brugge unloading barge and Children at play shows that Alfonse Van Besten could also handle large groups compositionally. Not to mention the various romantic poses of ladies and maidens.

During the first World War (1914-1918) he was a refugee in Holland. Together with his friend A. Van Son, another Belgian autochromist and refugee,  they gave countless lectures at Dutch photography societies. They were praised for their excellent autochrome work, e.g. on the 16th of April 1915 the photographic society “Meer Licht” from Nymegen (NL) paid an homage to Van Besten for his outstanding autochrome plates. See Homage to Van Besten at Nymegen.

Autochromes in:

  • FotoMuseum Provincie Antwerpen
  • Collection C. Axon, Birchington/UK
  • Collection D. Smith, Edmonton/Canada
  • Collection F. Van Hoof-Williame
  • Collection H. Tifft, Manlius-NY/USA
  • Collection M. Jacobs, Madison/USA
  • Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Member of:

  • The photographic association IRIS-Antwerp
  • Association Belge de Photographie


  • Bulletin Association Belge de Photographie, Vol. 1910, August/September; Vol. 1911, January
  • Henneman Inge, Het archief van de verbeelding, Antwerpen, Mercatorfonds 2002
  • Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 2008/4, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum 
  • Color Magazine Issue 1, april 2009, Novato, USA, Ross Periodicals
  • Revue Internationale de Photographie N° 5


  • De fotografie in België 1839-1940, Sterckshof, 1970
Copyright / Contact: Florent Van Hoof