“James Ensor. Inspired by Brussels”

Published on 14.04.2023

Ensor and Ostend. They are inextricably linked. But did you know that Brussels played a crucial role in how Ensor developed as an artist too? In the exhibition “James Ensor. Inspired by Brussels”, you will discover how the city helped to shape Ensor’s quirky and characteristic visual language. From 22 February 2024, dive into the imaginary world of one of the greatest Belgian artists. Discover paintings and graphical work in a place where Ensor was often to be found during his Brussels years: the Palace of Charles of Lorraine.

This exhibition is a collaboration by KBR and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and displays well-known works on canvas, as well as hidden treasures on paper.




Did you know that KBR and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (RMFAB) were the first public institutions to purchase work by James Ensor? As early as 1892, KBR’s Prints Department purchased 25 of the Ostend master’s etchings. Three years later, in 1895, the RMFAB acquired an early masterpiece by the artist: “The Lamplighter” (1880). With over 20 paintings, 30 drawings and 40 etchings, “James Ensor. Inspired by Brussels” now brings together an exceptionally large number of original works by the master in a unique historical setting.


Ensor as never before

Admire some works never before exhibited from the extensive oeuvre of James Ensor and discover several less well-known aspects of his work. The exhibition thus offers a rare opportunity to discover 30 drawings by his hand. Unique, because Ensor’s drawn work is highly fragile and is therefore rarely exhibited.

A highlight is the socially motivated drawing “Belgium in the 19th century” – a sharp critique of the political situation under King Leopold II. The artist also gained fame for the brilliant prints that he had printed in Brussels.

With over 40 etchings, the exhibition “James Ensor. Inspired by Brussels” offers a representative selection from Ensor’s graphical work. Several prints are also reunited with their draft drawings and printing forms. This will give you an exceptional insight into Ensor’s creative process.