James Ensor (1860-1949)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
James Ensor (1860-1949)

Fleurs fines, formes légères

James Ensor (1860-1949)
Fleurs fines, formes légères
signed 'Ensor' (lower left); and signed again and inscribed with title (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
40 x 50 cm.
Painted in 1937.
Marcel-Louis Baugniet, Brussels.
Galerie Govaerts, Brussels.
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owners, circa 1973.
Xavier Tricot, James Ensor: catalogue raisonné of the paintings, volume II, Antwerp, 1992, p. 630, no. 723 (titled 'Fleurs fines, formes légères').
Xavier Tricot, James Ensor: Life and Works; The Complete Paintings, Brussels, 2009, no. 740, p. 401 (illustrated).
Brussels, Galerie Georges Giroux, Hommage à James Ensor, 12 October - 4 November 1945, no. 123 (dated 1925).
Brussels, Galerie Govaerts at the Hilton Hotel, Les Grandes Collections, summer 1973.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
Sale room notice
Please note that the date should read: Painted in September 1937.

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Lot Essay

Already as a young boy James Ensor was influenced by the items he saw in his mother's souvenir shop. He developed a passion for curiosities, and often depicted these objects in his iconic still life paintings. He wrote: 'My mother, daughter of Ostend sea-shell traders, continued her parents trade and I spent my childhood in the paternal shop, surrounded by the curiosities from the sea and the splendours of mother-of-pearl with a thousand iridescent gleams and bizarre skeletons, monsters and marine plants. The proximity of these wonders, the colours, this light-filled, gleaming opulence, undoubtedly helped turn me in to a painter in love with colour and sensitive to the dazzling play of light.' (see: X. Tricot, James Ensor, life and work, the complete paintings, 2009, p. 13). Objects from the sea were not the only curiosities sold in his mother's store. Here, Ensor also saw Oriental objets d'art, and even more important, the masks which were sold for the annual Ostend festival and which would be of great inspiration to him.

The present lot was painted in 1925. At that time, Ensor lived at the Rue de Flandres in Ostend, in a house he inherited from his uncle in 1917. His uncle also ran an souvenir shop, but Ensor refused to run the shop as a business. He kept the store intact, and set up an attic studio, a sort of cabinet de curiosités, where he was surrounded by fantastical glittery objects, seashells, fans, collections of silk and pieces of Chinese ceramics, a constant source of inspiration for his paintings. The present painting lot is an arrangement of the personal possessions present in Ensor's studio. A Chinese vase filled with fresh flowers forms the center of the composition, flanked by two small sculptures, a number of shells, and other elements. In the right corner, two of Ensor's iconic masks are depicted. The objects together are a combination of tradition and fantasy, that is characteristic for the artist. Executed in luminous pink and blue tones, this enchanting still life clearly reflects Ensor's love of light and colour.

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