Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University

DAC Collection Artist Information

James Ensor

Belgian painter and draftsman

Brief biography, in most instances from the Union List of Artist Names® Online:
Ensor was a visionary and proto-modernist artist whose use of color prefigured fauvism and expressionism, and whose use of fantastical, symbolist, and satirical imagery were to influence Paul Klee, Emil Nolde, and later the Cobra group. His most productive period was been 1880 and 1900, but he was not well known until the late 1920s. Although many of his works feature satirical fantasies, he also painted seascapes, landscapes, and still-lifes. He was self-taught in the art of copperplate etching and produced many masterful works in this medium. In both his graphical works and in his paintings he made use of the carnival masks sold in his family's shop in Ostend as models for figures in thronging crowd scenes, still lifes, and domestic tableaux. These works can be interpreted as critiques of the Catholic Church, the Belgian state, and society in general. His most well-known painting may be "Christ's Entry into Brussels," a large-scale work in which the title figure is dwarfed by a crowd of grotesques. He remained in Ostend for the majority of his life, leaving in 1877 at the age of 17 to study at the Académie Royale des Beaux Arts in Brussels. Upon his return to Ostend in 1879 he established a studio above his parents shop, where he produced the majority of his mature work. In 1883 he was a founding member of the Groupe des Vingt. During his lifetime Ensor's work was critiqued harshly by his contemporaries, even among the avant-garde group he helped found.

Artist ID number in the Union List of Artist Names®: ULAN 500032046.
The ULAN link above leads to a cataloging authority record at the Getty Research Institute.

Objects related to James Ensor:

James Ensor Maisons du boulevard Anspach, à Bruxelles, 1888 Etching on Japan paper
James Ensor Masques scandalisés, 1895 Etching on Japan paper
James Ensor King Plague (Le Roi Peste), 1895 Etching
James Ensor Envy (L’Envie), 1904 Etching
James Ensor The Capital Sins (Les Péchés Capitaux), 1904 Etching with hand coloring
http://dac-collection.wesleyan.edu/art35808 is a persistent link to this page with no user-session information.

ULAN biographical content is displayed with permission of the Getty Research Institute. Some ULAN content in some DAC artist records has been lightly edited. Content from the Getty Research Institute is © 2019 The J. Paul Getty Trust. All rights reserved.

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