Lot 440
  • 440

James Ensor

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  • James Ensor
  • signed Ensor (lower left); signed Ensor on the reverse and titled on the stretcher
  • oil on canvas
  • 50.4 by 60.5cm., 19 7/8 by 23 3/4 in.


Augusta Boogaerts, Brussels
Claes-Boogaerts, Brussels
Cornelis-Claes, Brussels
Sale: Christie's, New York, 15th May 1985, lot 47
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Paris, Gazette des Beaux-Artes, Ensor, 1939, no. 79
Brussells, Galerie Georges Giroux, Homage à James Ensor, 1945, no. 143
Boitsfort, Maison Haute, 5e Salon: James Ensor, 1950, no. 39
Zurich, Kunsthaus, James Ensor, 1983, no. 123, illustrated in the catalogue
Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, James Ensor, 1983, no.129
Hyogo, The Museum of Modern Art (and travelling in Japan), James Ensor, 1983-84, no. 94, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Paul Haesaerts, James Ensor, New York, 1959, no. 90, illustrated p. 312
Xavier Tricot, James Ensor, Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Antwerp, 1992, vol. II, no. 747, illustrated p. 642

Catalogue Note

James Ensor is widely considered one of the finest Belgian painters of the 20th century. His unique style and subject matter show a clear reaction to pointillism and a strong influence from the old masters of Northern Europe. In depicting this still-life of ornaments on his altarpiece Ensor shows a strange fascination with the weird and wonderful artefacts and ornaments of his mother's souvenir shops in Ostende, where he grew up as a child. The painterly and mannered approach to his work makes the seemingly trivial little dolls come alive in this bold and colour-filled composition.

Ensor saw life and the constituent items around it as a constant source of inspiration. Few paintings show this mindset quite as vividly as Intérieur aux trois portraits. 'Everything is a matter for painting, everything is good enough to be painted, everything is beautiful enough to be painted' (quoted in P. Haeserts, op. cit., p. 94).