Anna Boch was one of the founding members of the Ligue belge du droit des femmes (Belgian League for Women's Rights) and a painter.
The name may well sound familiar to you... Anna was the daughter of Victor Boch, one of the founders of the famous Royal-Boch-Keramis earthenware factory, located in La Louvière, which ceased trading some ten years ago.
Born in 1848 in the Hainaut, Anna grew up in the heart of the high bourgeoisie, which gave her a lot of material comfort. Her childhood was spent at La Closière, in an extravagant castle that her father had commissioned famous Belgian architect Joseph Poelaert to build.
She first received musical training, before turning her attention to painting, receiving lessons in Brussels. She studied painting with Isidore Verheyden and Théo Van Rysselberghe, which shows her preference for non-traditional art. She quickly gravitated towards the great names in painting such as Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec.
She joined various artistic groups, such as the "Groupe des XX", which later became "La Libre Esthétique": this showed a certain dissent from academic art and included names such as Félicien Rops and James Ensor.
Ever the pioneer, in 1907, Anna bought a car and travelled alone across Europe, an extraordinary feat in those days! She had a sumptuous private mansion built in Ixelles, at the crossroads of Rue de l'Abbaye and Chaussée de Vleurgat. Inspired by Art Nouveau, it was sadly replaced in 1954 by a corner apartment building. In her residence, she hosted musical Mondays, set up a major patronage programme and gathered a collection of paintings that were dispersed at her death. Among others, she bought a Van Gogh, the only painting he sold during his lifetime!
Anna passed away in Brussels in 1936.