James Ensor's father was English. He trained at the Brussels Academy from 1877 to 1880, but apart from that he lived in Ostend all his life.
His early work, up to the mid-1880s, was of domestic interiors, landscapes and marines in a loose Impressionist style, but by 1885 he had developed a peculiarly macabre style. He frequently used masks and skeletons for Expressionist purposes before Expressionism was invented.
He exhibited with Les Vingt in 1884 but, five years later, they rejected his Entry of Christ into Brussels in 1889 (1888, Knocke-le-Zoute-Casino) and voted for his expulsion.
Fromm 1888 onwards, he juxtaposed simple late Impressionist works with Expressionism.
He visited England twice, first in 187 and then again in 1892 to see the works of Turner. Gradually he got over the resistance to his work but by 1900 his best work was behind him.
In 1929 he was made a Baron.
- London (Tate)
- New York (MoMA)
- Paris (Mus. d'Art Mod.)
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