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1860James Sidney Ensor was born on April 13 in Ostend at 44 Langestraat (now number 26). His father, James Frederic Ensor (1835-1887) was bom to English parents in Brussels. His mother, Maria Catharina Haegheman (1835-1915),was bom in Ostend. A cultivated man, Ensor's father studied engineering in England and Germany. His mother ran a curio shop selling souvenirs, chinoiseries, and masks.
1861Birth of Ensor's only sibling, Maria Carolina Emma Ensor, on August 29. Nicknamed Mitche, she was to become one of the artist's favorite models.
1873James enrolls at the Collège Notre-Dame where he shows more inter­est in sketching than in the courses offered by his professors. He studies drawing with two local artists: Edouard Dubar (1803-1879) and Michel Van Cuyck (1797-1875), copying chromolithographs as well as drawings and paintings executed by other artists.
1876Ensor leaves Collège Notre-Dame and enrolls at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Ostend.
1877On October 8, Ensor enrolls at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, then under the direction of Jean-Francois Portaels. Meets Fernand Khnopff (1858-192 I) and Willy Finch (1854-1930). Rents a small room in a house on rue Saint-Jean.
1879Meets poet, art critic, and painter Théo Hannon (1851-1916) who introduces him to the Rousseau - Hannon family. Ernest Rousseau Senior (1831-1905) taught physics at the Université Libre in Brussels, where he served as rector 1884-86. His wife, Mariette Hannon-Rousseau (1850-1920), Théo's sister, was a microbiologist and mycologist and taught at Brussels' Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles.
1880Ensor leaves the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels having obtained tenth prize for a painting executed from nature and seventh prize for a drawing from the antique figure. He returns to Ostend, where he resides with his parents at 23 Vlaanderenstraat (corner of Van Iseghemlaan). He sets up a studio in the attic. On a regular basis, Ensor returns to Brussels to visit the Rousseau family, with whom he maintains a close friendship for many years.
1882Ensor joins the art society L'Essor, formed in 1876. Exhibits seven paintings at their seventh salon. His canvas Au pays des couleurs (or Woman Eating Oysters) is refused by the Société Royale pour l'Encouragement des Beaux-Arts in Antwerp. Publishes his first essay, entitled "Réflexions sur l'art," in the Brussels journal L'Art moderne, edited by two Brussels lawyers, Octave Maus and Edmond Picard.
1883Ensor sends five canvases to the seventh annual exhibition of L'Essor. Travels to the Netherlands in October in the company of feIlow artist Guillaume Vogels (1836-1896). In the same month, several mem­bers, including Ensor, break with L'Essor and form Les XX (The Twenty). Octave Maus is elected secretary. Around that time I exhibited with Guillaume Vogels a few studies (landscapes and seascapes) at the Cercle Artistique de Bruxelles and the malevolence of the critics exceeded all limits. Francia, a painter of seascapes, called my works "shameless." The same year, Afternoon in Ostend, The Red Mullet, and The Oysters were refused at the Brussels Salon. Finally the Cercle Artistique also refused Scandalized Masks. The Cercle Artistique was, at that time, given to the most intransigent doctrinarism. lts board refused the works of Claus, Courtens, and Pantazis. My fighting spirit prevented me from withdrawing from Les XX, but even there I was sur­rounded by hostility (though the entire group had benefited from my research). I started to have pleasure in painting masks, and ever since I have done so. Thus, I was able to contem­plate from a philosophical point of view the hypocrisy of faces, their attempts at concealing their interests, their deceit. My evolving style crushed these cowards with my contempt. I was happy with the road I took; in a natural way it led me to the excesses and violence of color. It exposed the selfish viewpoint of the criticism of my fellow painters, their ignorance, their bad faith, the impotence of critics. To a great extent, the mean and vile attacks of these former imitators contributed to my pursuit of this extraordinary path of light and excesses. This time no imitator or pasticheur dared to follow me.
1884Ensor shows at the first annual exhibition of Les XX. He publishes his parody, "Trois semaines à l'Académie," in L'Art moderne, which satirizes the Brussels Academy. Exhibits at the Brussels Cercle Artistique et Littéraire. His entry to the Brussels' salon is refused. Travels to Paris with the Dutch painter Jan Toorop (1858-1928).
1885Between late 1884 and early 1885, Ensor suffers from a serious intestinal complaint. Exhibits with Guillaume Van Strydonck at the salon of L'Essor. Shows six canvases with Les XX and sells a landscape. Begins work on the great cycle of drawings Vîsions: The Aureoles of Christ or the Sensibilities of Light. Executes The Rising: Christ Shown to the People and The Lively and Radiant: The Entry of Christ into Jerusalem. Exhibits approximately twenty works, including drawings, at the annual salon of Les XX. Begins to execute etchings. Travels to England with Vogels.
1887February 20: Maternal grandmother dies. Exhibits the Visions series at the annual salon of Les XX. Participates at the first annual salon of L'Art indépendant in Antwerp. Travels to England in the company of Guillaume Vogels to see paintings by ].M.W. Turner. On April 14 his father is found dead.
1888Meets Augusta Boogaerts (1870-1951), nicknamed "La Sirène," the daughter of an Ostend hotelier, who remains his companion until his death. Exhibits with Les XX. Contrary to critical notices, Ensor's submission was not refused. He produces forty­four etchings (approximately one-third of his total output).
1889Visits Paris. Goes to the Louvre and Versailles and Fontainebleau. Participates in the annual salon of Les XX but does not exhibit The Entry of Christ into Brussels in 1889 (despite mention of the work in the exhibition catalogue) because it was not finished in time.
1890Shows important works at the salon of Les XX: Theater of Masks (1889), Skeletons Trying to Warm Themselves (1889), The Asthonishment of the Mask Wouse (1889), The Fall of the Rebellious Angels (1889), The Temptation of Saint Anthony (1887).
1891First one-man show of etchings at Galerie Dietrich, Brussels. Visits Zeeland, the Netherlands, with Eugène Demolder. Executes several drawings in dif­ferent styles: The Roman Triumph, The Battle of the Golden Spurs, The Cuirassiers at Waterloo, The Multiplicatian of Fish.
1892Publication of the first monograph on the artist, written by his friend Eugène Demolder and published by Paul Lacomblez in Brussels. Ensor's sister marries Taen Hee Tseu, a Chinese merchant from Germany, who leaves her shortly after their wedding. They nonetheless have a little girl, Mariette Alexandrine Jeanne, bom in Ostend on March 26, 1893. Nicknamed Alex, Ensor also called his niece "La Chinoise." Briefly visits London.
1893Participates in the last exhibition of Les XX. Octave Maus dissolves the circle despite Ensor's protestations and founds La Libre Esthétique. In an act of despair, Ensor puts the entire contents of his studio up for sale for 8500 francs. There is no buyer. The Brussels Cabinet des Estampes buys a large number of his etchings.
1894Participates in the first exhibitions of La Libre Esthétique. Together with the printer Daveluy and the architect Antoine Dujardin, Ensor founds the Cercle des Beaux-Arts d'Ostende. At the first exhibition of the newly-founded circle, held between 14 June and 9 September, Ensor sells a series of 25 etchings to the Kupferstichkabinett of Dresden. From December 20,1894 toJanuary 5,1895 Ensor's first one-man show, organized by Eugène Demolder, hangs at Demolder's father's shop, the Comptoir des Arts Industriels La Royale in Brussels at 6 rue Montagne-aux-Herbes-Potagères.
1895Produces virtually no paintings. In March, the Belgian government purchases The Lamp­lighter for display at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Brussels; the price is 2500 francs. Travels to Zeeland with Eugène Demolder.
1898Thanks to Eugène Demolder and the artist Armand Rassenfosse, Ensor holds his first one-man show in Paris at the Salon des Cent, 31, rue Bonaparte (December 15, 1898-January 15, 1899). He exhibits drawings and etchings. He does not, however, receive the acclaim he hoped for. Publication of a special issue of La Plume, dedicat­ed to James Ensor with 111 illustrations.
1899The Albertina of Vienna purchases approximately 100 etchings for the sum of 400 francs.
1901The city of Ostend purchases a series of 188 etchings from the artist.
1903Ensor is made a Chevalier in the Belgian Order of Leopold. Ensor meets the painter and author Emma Lambotte (1878-1963), born Protin, wife of a Liège doctor. She publishes several articles on Ensor under the pen name Emaël. The Lambottes purchase many of his works, including Woman Eating Oysters (1882) and Self-Portrait with Masks (1899). Exhibits at the Salon Triennal of Brussels.
1904Joins the art society Vie et Lumière founded that year by Emile Claus, George Morren, and Cyriel Buysse. Through Emma Lambotte, Ensor meets François Franck, a col­lector and resident of Antwerp, who purchases many of his pictures.
1906Dr. and Mrs. Lambotte present Ensor with a harmonium. The artist begins to com­pose music for his ballet La Gamme d'Amour, for which he also produces sets, cos­tumes, and text. The project was completed in 1911. Starts executing replicas of former paintings.
1908The poet Émile Verhaeren compiles the first exhaustive monograph on the painter with a list of his works, published by Van Oest & Cie, Brussels.
1913The German art dealer and collector Herbert van Garvens-Garvensburg publishes the first catalogue raisonné of Ensor's prints in Hanover. The Belgian painter and sculptor Rik Wouters executes a bust of Ensor.
1915Death of the artist's mother on March 8, at the age of eighty.
1916Death of aunt Mimi. Ensor now lives with his sister and two loyal domestics.
1917Ensor moves to a house inherited from his uncle Leopold Haegheman (his mother's brother), at 17 Vlaanderenstraat (now number 27).
1920First retrospective at the Galerie Georges Giroux in Brussels (140 works exhibited). Ensor sells six works to the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique in Brussels, including two drawings from the series Visions: The Aureoles of Christ or the Sensibilities of Light. Performance of his ballet La Gamme d'Amour at the Galerie Georges Giroux.
1921First edition of Ensor's Écrits by Éditions Sélection. Galerie Georges Giroux pub­lishes Scenes from the Life of Christ, an album of thirty-two lithographs executed after drawings in colored pencil made between 191l and 1920. Paul Colin publishes his first monograph on the painter. On the initiative of Antwerp collector François Franck, a group of friends donates eight important pictures to the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp.
1922Grégoire Le Roy publishes his distinguished monograph on the painter, with G. Van Oest & Cie (Brussels and Paris).
1924The ballet La Gamme d'Amour is performed at the Opera in Antwerp. The German expressionist painter Erich Heckel paints Ensor's portrait.
1929The largest retrospective of Ensor's work ever mounted in his lifetime opens at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. The Entry of Christ into Brussels in 1889 is exhibited for the first time. Belgian monarch Albert I confers on Ensor the title of Baron. Publication of La Gamme d'Amour, an album of twenty-two lithographs executed after drawings in colored pencil made between 1911 and 1920.Wassily Kandinsky visits the painter.
1932Large-scale exhibition of 171 works at the Jeu de Paume in Paris. La Gamme d'Amour is performed at the Théâtre Royal in Ostend.
1942During the war, Ensor remains in Ostend. False rumors of his death, reported in several newspapers both in Belgium and abroad, spread through artistic circles. The Albertina in Vienna purchases twenty-eight drawings and fifty-nine hand-colored engravings.
1945A large-scale retrospective with 159 works opens at the Galerie Georges Giroux in Brussels. Death of the artist's sister, Mitche, on December 27.
1949Death ofJames Ensor on November 19 at the Sacred Heart Hospital in Ostend. The artist is buried on November 23 in the cemetery of Notre- Dame-des- Dunes in Mariakerke near Ostend.
1951Death of Ensor's long-life friend, Augusta Boogaerts, on January 20 in Brussels. Large retrospectives at the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp and at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

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