James Sidney Ensor

Ostend, Belgium April 13, 1860 - 1949 November 19 Ostend, Belgium



His Oyster Eater (1882) hailed by Emile Verhaeren as the first painting to celebrate light executed in Belgium. Ensor was probably not familiar with French Impressionism at this time. Did see Manet in 1882 at the Antwerp Triennial Exhibition.

In 1880, at the age of 20, James finishes at the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels. He returns home to Ostend, where he has a studio in his parents attic. He begins a series of bourgeois interiors.

Began in an Impressionist manner but in 1890 discovered in a mask an expression for his fantastic and ironic vision.


1)  Impressionism to Symbolism The Belgian Avant-Garde 1880-1900. Royal Academy of Arts, London 7 July - 2 October 1994. Edited by MaryAnne Stevens with Robert Hoozee.