Belgian painter of French birth. After the Franco-Prussian war (1870-71), his parents settled in Belgium. Although self-taught, he was advised by Jan Toorop, with whom he shared a studio, and later lived with Henry de Groux. In 1894 he married Juliette Massin, a painter and Emile Verhaeren’s sister-in-law, who introduced him to the circle of Symbolist poets. His art, which bears the influence of poetry, transfigures reality in the sense that it affords a view of the invisible. Degouve de Nuncques belonged to the avant-garde group Les XX and later exhibited at the Libre Esthétique. He travelled widely and painted views of Italy, Austria and France, often of parks at night. He excelled in the use of pastel. Two works, in particular, demonstrate the magical quality of his work: Pink House (1892; Otterlo, Kröller-Müller) and Peacocks (1896; Brussels, Mus. A. Mod.)
From 1900 to 1902 Degouve de Nuncques lived with his wife in the Balearic Islands; he painted the rugged coastline and the orange groves. After suffering a religious crisis c. 1910, he painted pictures that revealed his tormented state of mind, and during World War I, while living as a refugee in the Netherlands, he produced only minor works. In 1919 he was overwhelmed by the death of his wife and lost the use of one hand. In 1930 he married the woman who had helped him through this crisis. They settled in Stavelot, where he devoted himself to painting snow-covered landscapes.