Edward Hopper

At the moment: Edward HOPPER exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris.


Did you know he used to paint with BLOCKX products?


Especially between 1939-1944... why not after?


==> Guess and submit your answer to

We will publish the reason here as soon as somebody will have found it


Good luck!


! Congratulations to Glori Alsop ! – Art teacher in UTAH (Bear River High School), USA 

Indeed the reason why Edward HOPPER didn’t paint after with Blockx, was because of the World War II, it was impossible to get the products. This unavailability was due to Blockx stop making paint during the WWII in order to not cooperate with the Germans.



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A passionate art's materials girl visits from down-under

Jacques Blockx in his laboratory

Mid July 2011, I leave the hard sun of my Provence and just a few hours later arrive under a typically Belgian gray sky with big shots of light, at times beaming on details of the scenery. This is the country of my childhood holidays and I love its gentle beauty. The area is (was most certainly) wealthy and comfortable. A House and Gardens elegant atmosphere surrounds the flowering fences and stone walls of the villas and impressive farm-castles that dot the countryside. The tempo is slow and summer heat is… low! Jacques, my host for the day, is delightfully in sync with his surroundings. And although he's a chemist, I soon think of him more as a gentleman-colourman (as in gentleman-farmer). He proudly shows me his veggie patch and, while we talk in his lab, his sheep frame themselves in the window as in some Flemish landscape painting above the sill where strange shaped amber bottles – that are one of his family claim to fame – rest.

Typical Blockx amber bottles

I've come, in truth, a much longer way to meet this man. I now live in Australia but when I was researching in France which oil paint ranges to select for my store, a fellow art materials shop assistant told me: "and then of course there's Blockx, yes you must have Blockx, for sure they are the best". Well, up till now I had heard good, very good, but… the best?

Most certainly, Jacques, heir to the very first Blockx who started the company in 1865, also a Jacques (but then they all are!) thinks so too. And most certainly too, neither quality of ingredients, nor time is spared in the process of making oil paints, watercolours, pastels and auxiliaries in the Blockx's factory… a grand word for a charming old stone building in which 6 persons lovingly turn pigments into colour delights! Time here feels of little concern… in the entrance, a correspondence book is open at the date of my visit, except that the hand written letters -which already discuss shipments to paint lovers on the other side of the globe- are all dated July 1911. Perhaps, when you are doing something you love, time is never of concern…

Original "photocopier" and correspondence book from a century ago

As I soon discover, handmade here, means… handmade! In the old days, up to 30 people worked in the factory but then they were still burning their own siennas and umbers and grinding all their pigments by hand (one of these hard-working tough guys on the turn of the century group portrait he shows me could, in his 12 hour day, produce 12 tubes of 20ml oil paint!). No one does this anymore although labor, I've read, accounts for more than half the price of good paint, and of course  "Made in Belgium" is hardly the cheapest on the planet either.

The disused ovens where the pigments were "burnt"

But where many other companies make the "handmade paint" claim and, of course, triple mills are emptied by hand the world over, here pure pigments are still ground on the premises by stone cylinders operated by hand. These cylinders rotate at a slow speed without heating or polluting the paint and thus duplicate, as much as possible, a handmade work. Iron oxides, earth and black pigments are ground in linseed oil, others in the much more expensive poppy seed oil which never yellows.

Jacques Blockx and his marble triple mill

Jacques, perhaps a shy man outside his lab, has absolutely no second thoughts about the quality he produces. He is totally happy if his oil paint is the most expensive on the market (it actually isn't always) and adamant no student quality is ever going to be made here, no acrylics, no mixture of pigments. In his literature you can read sentences like: ""We do not, and never have, prepared transient or unstable shades. A classification by degree of stability would, therefore, be out of place". It could be a little on the snob side perhaps but in this world where the best companies sell their souls and shortchange their personnel to make an extra dollar or use rapturous words to describe an inferior product… I actually love it!

The testing bench in the lab

You probably will not meet this man (I doubt You tube is his cup of tea and… he's probably horrified just by the name of this blog!!) but make prayers for his long life and another one in the hope that one of his four daughters (or a grandson named Jacques…) gets the bug and keeps the world a better place by producing slowly and painstakingly… quite possibly the best paint in the world!

Old tubes and medium bottles


An historian in our archive

Blockx Abstract

This family firm of chemist-colourmen is remarkable in many ways, for not only have they endeavoured, from the first, to produce the highest quality pigments and paints but they have gone to the ends of the earth to collect materials and then traded selectively with an impressive array of internationally reknown artists, both professional and amateur.

Belgium is ideally situated between the economic power-houses and major artistic markets, yet had just the right cultural climate to fully appreciate the early applied sciences, so that the Blockx archives exemplifies not only their own dedication but the flourishing social attitudes of the era, which rewarded and sustained such expertise.    

So far I have identified over 300 firms with whom they traded before 1905 and, because they were a mail order business, we can also locate around 1,000 painters who used Blockx colours. Artists at the top of their profession used Blockx paints, such as Alma Tadema and Holman Hunt in London; Messonier and Gerôme in the Paris Academy; von Kaulbach in Munich; Werenskjold and Thaulow in Scandinavia; Ensor and Magritte, closer to home; Yankees such as Edward Austin Abbey and Gari Melchers; and close friends included Charles Verlat and Paul Signac. It can also be seen that word spread about Blockx around many distant village artists’ colonies, including Pont-Aven, Concarneau, Katwyk, Laren, St.Ives, Grez and Etaples, although there is hardly any country in Europe where their paints were not found in profusion, such as Russia, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Rumania, Hungary and Switzerland.

For further information about the Blockx Archive and the project to conserve and digitalise this unique resource please contact art historian Dr.Brian D.Barrett c/o 


The watercolor tube is now available in 35 ml


By popular demand of modern artists

The watercolor tube is now available in 35 ml.

In series 1 it means 41% of free paint

24/09/2010 - J. BLOCKX Fils s.a. - Contact