(b. 1866, Gent, d. 1922, Gent)
Belgian painter and etcher. The son of a successful mill-owner and an excellent musician, he was a pupil and friend of Gustave Den Duyts (1850-1897), and later, at the Ghent Académie, of Jean Delvin (1853-1922). He was involved in the exhibiting society L'Essor in Brussels as well as the triennial salons held in Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent in rotation.
Among his earliest important works are The Scheldt at Dendermonde (1887; Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Ghent), which he painted beside Isidore Meyers (1836-1917) and Franz Courtens (1854-1943) in a Realist style characteristic of the Dendermonde school. In 1889-90 he attended the studio of Alfred Roll in Paris, where he met Jacques-Emile Blanche and Charles Cottet, and became particularly closely associated with Frits Thaulow, Emile-René Ménard and Edmond Aman-Jean. He exhibited regularly at the Salon in Paris.
Although Baertsoen is considered to be one of the first Belgian Impressionists, he belonged to no particular school. He was more than a descriptive landscape painter, for he sought to evoke through the depiction of the natural world a mood of melancholy and resignation. He painted silent streets, rocks, rivers and canals in Bruges, Liège, Nieuwpoort, Diksmuide and in London, where he stayed during World War I. His most important paintings, however, were inspired by his native town, Ghent, of which he built up a remarkable portrait over the years in such works as Barges in the Snow (1901) and Ghent in the Evening (1903; both Brussels, Musée d'Art Moderne). A broad, spontaneous technique, great delicacy of nuance, deep sincerity as well as a certain meditative quality characterize his work, which is limited in quantity. Baertsoen played an important role in Belgian cultural life of his period and was elected to the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in 1919.