Happy Birthday James Ensor!

Ensor's self portrait

Today is the birthday of Belgian artist James Ensor (b. 1860 -1949).   Ensor caused great scandal with a painting he painted in 1888 – 89 called ‘Entry of Christ into Brussels’.  A lot of his work was rejected in the late 1800s, though he continued to exhibit. He did eventually gain acceptance with ‘The Lamp Boy’  in 1895.

The Drunkards

Ensor’s early style was realistic with works like ‘The Drunkards’ in 1885.   His palette became bright and his subject matter quite bizarre.  He started to introduce masks into his works.  ‘The skeletons fighting over the Hanged man’ for example feature the artists fascination with masks.  Puppetry and carnivals are also themes employed by Ensor in his later allogorical work.

Christ's entry into Brussels

Entry of Christ into Brussels was not publicly displayed until 1929 and is considered an example of 20th century expressionism.  The picture is shows a carnival of threatening masks  which confront the viewer.  the crowd consists of member of Ensor’s family, historical figures, including politicians.  Christ on a donkey proceeds through the mocking crowd – a victim of their jibes.

two skeletons fighting over a hanged man

Ensor influenced quite a number of artists including Paul Klee and Alfred Kubin, as well as expressionist and surrealist artists.

Lots of his work can be found here

A biography of this artist can be found here

6 thoughts on “Happy Birthday James Ensor!

  1. What an improbable and completely unforgetable painter to emerge from his time period and place. I see a little Dali in his self-portrait. Thanks for reminding me of him.

    1. Thanks Art, yes, surrealists were inspired by him and you can see why! His colours are very expressionistic and a little ‘unusual’. Before his time I think. Thanks for visiting 🙂

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