He spent nearly his whole life in Ostend. The recognition of his art was long and hard in this provincial town where nobody was paying attention to his first colorful paintings close to the beginning of impressionism. His hatred of social conventions generated a period of intense creativity that lasted from 1888 to 1892.
He painted in 1889 his masterpiece, the Entry of Christ into Brussels, which is a diversion of the carnivals from Bruegel on which the crowd of masked characters is now waving revolutionary slogans.
Ensor is an artist of the social mockery long before the caricatures by Grosz and long before the surrealists. His Despair of Pierrot painted in 1892 anticipates the mournful clowns from Picasso's blue period. This oil on canvas 117 x 167 cm from the Saint-Laurent - Bergé collection was sold for € 5M including premium by Christie's on February 23, 2009.
On November 5 in New York, Sotheby's sells Les Poissardes mélancoliques, lot 19 estimated $ 3M.
This oil on canvas 110 x 80 cm painted in 1892 features two old women seated in an interior lined with trinkets. It is easy to appreciate why they are melancholic. Nothing remains from their fish trade excepted a mackerel shredded by the cat and a crab shell.
A niche with a proverb is inserted in the back wall, as in the old Dutch interior scenes. It is populated by three skulls with aggressive jaws. A sign marked with a slogan springs from this place as a challenge to the well-thinking bourgeoisie of Ostend: "Death to them! They ate too much fish!".
SOLD for $ 7M including premium