Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889

Object Details

Title:

Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889

Artist/Maker(s):

James Ensor (Belgian, 1860 - 1949)

Culture:

Belgian

Place(s):

Belgium (Place created)

Date:

1888

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

252.7 x 430.5 cm (99 1/2 x 169 1/2 in.)

Copyright:

© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SABAM, Brussels

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James Ensor took on religion, politics, and art in this scene of Christ entering contemporary Brussels in a Mardi Gras parade. In response to the French pointillist style, Ensor used palette knives, spatulas, and both ends of his brush to put down patches of colors with expressive freedom. He made several preparatory drawings for the painting, including one in the J. Paul Getty Museum's collection.

Ensor's society is a mob, threatening to trample the viewer–a crude, ugly, chaotic, dehumanized sea of masks, frauds, clowns, and caricatures. Public, historical, and allegorical figures along with the artist's family and friends made up the crowd. The haloed Christ at the center of the turbulence is in part a self-portrait: mostly ignored, a precarious, isolated visionary amidst the herdlike masses of modern society. Ensor's Christ functioned as a political spokesman for the poor and oppressed–a humble leader of the true religion, in opposition to the atheist social reformer Emile Littré, shown in bishop's garb holding a drum major's baton leading on the eager, mindless crowd.

After rejection by Les XX, the artists' association that Ensor had helped to found, the painting was not exhibited publicly until 1929. Ensor displayed Christ's Entry prominently in his home and studio throughout his life. With its aggressive, painterly style and merging of the public with the deeply personal, Christ's Entry was a forerunner of twentieth-century Expressionism.

Provenance
1888 - 1949

James Ensor, Belgian, 1860 - 1949 (Ostend, Belgium), by inheritance to his niece, Alexandra Daveluy, 1949.

1949 - 1950

Alexandra Daveluy (Ostend, Belgium), sold to Gustave Nellens, for the Casino Communal, 1950.

1950 -

Casino Communal (Knokke-le-Zoute, Belgium)

by 1954 - 1969

Louis Franck (London, England; Gstaad, Switzerland), sold to his foundation, Fondation Socindec (Vaduz, Liechtenstein), 1969.

1969 - 1987

Fondation Socindec (Vaduz, Liechtenstein), sold through Alex Reid & Lefevre, Ltd. (London, England) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1987.

Exhibitions
James Ensor (January 19 to February 17, 1929)
  • Palais des beaux-arts (Brussels), January 19 to February 17, 1929, (Cat. 160)
Ensor (June to July, 1939)
  • Gazette des beaux-arts, (Paris), June to July, 1939, (Cat. 25)
Gloires de la peinture moderne: Hommage à James Ensor (July 23 to August 22, 1949)
  • Palais des Thermes (Ostend), July 23 to August 22, 1949, (Cat. 6)
James Ensor (1951 to 1952)
  • The Museum of Modern Art (New York), 1951, (Cat. 27)
  • The Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston), 1951 to 1952, (Cat. 27)
  • City Art Museum (St. Louis), 1952, (Cat. 27)
  • The Cleveland Museum of Art, (Cleveland), 1952, (Cat. 27)
Rétrospective James Ensor (June 16 to August 15, 1951)
  • Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, (Antwerp), June 16 to August 15, 1951, (Cat. 72)
James Ensor (February to April, 1954)
  • Musée national d'art moderne, (Paris), February to April, 1954, (Cat. 40)
Kunst van Heden / L'art contemporain (May 14 to June 12, 1955)
  • Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, (Antwerp), May 14 to June 12, 1955, (Cat. 30)
Le drame sociale dans l'art de Goya à Picasso (May 21 to June 30, 1960)
  • Palais des beaux-arts (Brussels), May 21 to June 30, 1960, (Cat. 65)
James Ensor, 1860-1949 (July 9 to August 31, 1960)
  • Stedelijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Ostend), July 9 to August 31, 1960, (Cat. 51)
Les sources du XXe siècle: Les arts en Europe de 1884 à 1914 (November 4, 1960 to January 23, 1961)
  • Musée national d'art moderne, (Paris), November 4, 1960 to January 23, 1961, (Cat. 151)
Ensor, 1860-1949 (June 17 to September 17, 1961)
  • Kröller-Müller Museum, (Otterlo), June 17, 1861 to July 30, 1961, (Cat. 34)
  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, (Rotterdam), August 5 to September 17, 1961, (Cat. 34)
40 ans d'art vivant: Hommage à Robert Giron (March 6 to April 12, 1968)
  • Palais des beaux-arts (Brussels), March 6 to April 12, 1968, (Cat. 1)
L'art flamand, d'Ensor à Permeke (1970)
  • Musée de l'Orangerie, (Paris), 1970, (Cat. 50)
Ensor to Permeke: Nine Flemish Painters, 1880-1950 (September 25 to November 21, 1971)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), September 25 to November 21, 1971, (Cat. 97)
Ensor (November 6, 1976 to April 11, 1977)
  • The Art Institute of Chicago, November 6, 1976 to January 3, 1977, (Cat. 25)
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, (New York), January 28 to April 11, 1977, (Cat. 25)
James Ensor (May 20 to October 30, 1983)
  • Kunsthaus Zürich, (Zurich), May 20 to July 31, 1983, (Cat. 61 / 68)
  • Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, (Antwerp), August 20 to October 30, 1983, (Cat. 61 / 68)
Ensor's Graphic Modernism (May 2 to July 30, 2006)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), May 2 to July 30, 2006, (Cat. no cat.)
The Scandalous Art of James Ensor (June 10 to September 7, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), June 10 to September 7, 2014, (Cat.)
  • The Art Institute of Chicago, November 23, 2014 to January 25, 2015, (Cat.)
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Lesko, Diane. James Ensor: The Creative Years (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985), pp. 4, 44n39, 52, 56, 61, 66-67, 85, 110, 113, 128, 134-45, figs. 57, 104, 106, 109.

McGough, Stephen Charles. James Ensor's 'The Entry of Christ into Brussels in 1889' (New York: Garland Press, 1985), passim, ill.

Tricot, Xavier. Ensoriana (Ostend, Belgium: L'Hareng saur, 1985), pp. 51, 56.

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Adams, Brooks. "Mussels and Windmills: Impressionism in Belgium and Holland." In World Impressionism: The International Movement, 1860-1920. Norma Broude, ed. (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1990), pp. 262-63, 273, pl. 330.

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Legrand, Francine-Claire. Ensor (Brussels: La renaissance du livre, 1990), pp. 12, 40, 54, 85, 88-91, 97, 100, 112, 125, no. 101, ill.

Ollinger-Zinque, Gisèle. "Le Christ-Ensor ou l'identification au Christ dans l'oeuvre d'Ensor." In James Ensor, exh. cat. (Paris: Musée du Petit Palais, 1990), pp. 28-29, 33-34, ill.

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Fohr, Robert. "James Ensor au Petit Palais: Masques et bizarreries." L'estampille/L'objet d'art, no. 237 (June 1990), p. 14, ill.

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Heusinger von Waldegg, Joachim. James Ensor: Legende vom Ich (Cologne: DuMont, 1991), pp. 11-16, 57, 73, 138, 142-46, 204, 247, 254, fig. 1.

Miller, Paul W. "Christ's Entry into Cincinnati: A Tribute to Benjamin R. Haydon's 'Christ's Entry Into Jerusalem.'" Queen City Heritage: The Journal of The Cincinnati Historical Society 50, no. 4 (Winter 1992), pp. 24, 28, ill.

Parsons, Thomas, and Iain Gale. Post-Impressionism: The Rise of Modern Art (London: Studio Editions, 1992), p. 75.

Rapetti, Rodolphe. "'Un chef-d'oeuvre pour ces temps d'incertitude': 'Le Christ aux outrages' d'Henry de Groux." Revue de l'art, no. 96 (1992), pp. 42-44, fig. 9.

Goddard, Stephen H., ed. Les Vingt en de avant-garde in België: Prenten, tekeningen en boeken ca. 1890, exh. cat. (Ghent: Museum voor Schone Kunsten, 1992), p. 152, under no. 20, entry by Susan M. Canning; p. 154, under no. 21, entry by Susan M. Canning; p. 178, under no. 43, entry by Stephen H. Goddard.

Traverses, n.s., no. 5 (Spring 1993), pp. 40-41, ill.

Canning, Susan M. "The Ordure of Anarchy: Scatological Signs of Self and Society in the Art of James Ensor." Art Journal 52, no. 3 (Fall 1993), pp. 50-51, fig. 6.

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Roberts-Jones, Philippe, et al. Bruxelles fin de siècle (Paris: Flammarion, 1994), pp. 82-83, ill.

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Creuz, Serge. Bellone, alchimie d'une maison (Brussels: Éditions Racine, 1995), pp. 116-17, ill.

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O'Toole, James. Leading Change: Overcoming the Ideology of Comfort and the Tyranny of Custom (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995), pp. 1-16, cover ill.

Solov'ëv, Vladimir. I tre dialoghi è il racconto dell'anticristo (Milan: Vita e pensiero, 1995), cover ill.

Leonard, Mark, and Louise Lippincott. "James Ensor's 'Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889': Technical Analysis, Restoration, and Reinterpretation." Art Journal 54, no. 2 (Summer 1995), pp. 18-27, figs. 1, 3-5, 7-8.

James, Susan E. "Among the Ghosts and Skeletons." Sawasdee (April 1995), pp. 39, 41, ill.

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Tesch, Jürgen, and Eckhard Hollmann. Icons of Art: The 20th Century (Munich and New York: Prestel, 1997), pp. 14-15, ill.

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Hyman, Timothy. "James Ensor: A Carnival Sense of the World." In James Ensor, 1860-1949: Theatre of Masks, exh. cat. (London: Barbican Art Gallery, with Lund Humphries, 1997), pp. 78-79, 82-84.

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Alechinsky, Pierre. "Indebted to Ensor." In Ensor, exh. cat. (Brussels: Musées royaux des beaux-arts de Belgique, 1999), pp. 10-12, fig. 2.

Rosenblum, Robert. "James Ensor: An International Perspective." In Ensor, exh. cat. (Brussels: Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, 1999), pp. 24-25.

Bown-Tavernier, Sabine. "Still Life as a Stylistic Exercise." In Ensor, exh. cat. (Brussels: Musées royaux des beaux-arts de Belgique, 1999), p. 36.

Derrey-Capon, Danielle. "The Masked Soul of James Ensor." In Ensor, exh. cat. (Brussels: Musées royaux des beaux-arts de Belgique, 1999), pp. 43-44.

Draguet, Michel. "The Looks of 'Pietje de Dood.'" In Ensor, exh. cat. (Brussels: Musées royaux des beaux-arts de Belgique, 1999), p. 50.

Wangermée, Robert. "La gamme d'amour and Ensor's Music." In Ensor, exh. cat. (Brussels: Musées royaux des beaux-arts de Belgique, 1999), p. 54.

Draguet, Michel. James Ensor, ou la fantasmagorie (Paris: Gallimard, 1999), pp. 10, 33, 121, 136-38, 160, 168-82, 204, 207, figs. 146, 187-91, 195-96.

Becks-Malorny, Ulrike. James Ensor, 1860-1949: Masks, Death, and the Sea (Cologne: Taschen, 1999), pp. 43, 45-49, 51-52, ill.

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Lyons, Lisa. Departures: 11 Artists at the Getty, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2000), pp. 40-41, ill.

Tricot, Xavier. "Chronology." In Between Street and Mirror: The Drawings of James Ensor, exh. cat. Catherine de Zegher, ed. (New York: The Drawing Center, with University of Minnesota Press, 2001), pp. 224, 232.

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Canning, Susan M. "The Devil's Mirror: Private Fantasy and Public Vision." In Between Street and Mirror: The Drawings of James Ensor, exh. cat. Catherine de Zegher, ed. (New York: The Drawing Center, with University of Minnesota Press, 2001), pp. 68-69, 77n49.

Maeyer, Marcel de. "Mystic Death of a Theologian." In Between Street and Mirror: The Drawings of James Ensor, exh. cat. Catherine de Zegher, ed. (New York: The Drawing Center, with University of Minnesota Press, 2001), pp. 187, 200.

Todts, Herwig. "The Grotesque in Ensor's Oeuvre." In Between Street and Mirror: The Drawings of James Ensor, exh. cat. Catherine de Zegher, ed. (New York: The Drawing Center, with University of Minnesota, 2001), pp. 207-8, 212.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), pp. 148-49, ill.

Fenton, James. "The Story of a Room." The New York Review of Books 48, no. 5 (March 29, 2001), p. 32.

Jonsson, Stefan. "Society Degree Zero: Christ, Communism, and the Madness of Crowds in the Art of James Ensor." Representations, no. 75 (Summer 2001), pp. 1-32, pl. 1.

Levine, Sura. Review of Between Street and Mirror: The Drawings of James Ensor. New York, The Drawing Center. Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 1, no. 1 (Spring 2002), http://www.19thc-artworldwide.org/index.php/spring02/184-between-street-and-mirror-the-drawings-of-james-ensor-exhibition-and-catalogue (accessed February 16, 2011).

Gillis, Eric, and Patrick Floorizoone. James Ensor: A Collection of Prints Presented for Sale by Artemis Fine Arts & C. G. Boerner (C. G. Boerner, 2002), p. 158, under no. 96.

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Berman, Patricia G. James Ensor: Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889 (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002), passim, ill., cover ill.

Beheydt, Ludo. Één en toch apart: Kunst en cultuur van de Nederlanden (Leuven: Davidsfonds; Zwolle, The Netherlands: Waanders, 2002), pp. 252-54, 256, ill.

Guédron, Martial. "La peinture en Belgique de 1750 à 1914." In Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann et al., L'art flamand et hollandais: Belgique et Pays-Bas, 1520-1914 (Paris: Citadelles & Mazenod, 2002), pp. 476, 483, fig. 491.

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Chu, Petra ten-Doesschate. Nineteenth-Century European Art (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall; New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2003), pp. 494-95, figs. 20-11, 20-12.

Moffatt, Frederick C. "Drawing upon the Urban Experience: Joseph Delaney's New York." In Life in the City: The Art of Joseph Delaney, exh. cat. (Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee, 2004), pp. 12-13, ill.

Jonsson, Stefan. Tre revolutioner: En kort historia om folket: 1789, 1889, 1989 (Stockholm: Förlag Norstedts, 2005), pp. 79-137, pl. 5.

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Hoving, Thomas, Kate Learson, and Lori Stein. Master Pieces: The Curator's Game (New York and London: W. W. Norton, 2006) pp. 11, 157, 176, ill.

Wolf, Gerhard, and Ludovica Sebregondi. Volti di Cristo (Florence: Vallecchi, 2006), pp. 224-25, ill.

Marchesano, Louis. Ensor's Graphic Modernism, exh. brochure (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2006), unpaginated, fig. 1, cover ill. (detail).

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Suazo, Félix. "Vocación, devoción, expresión." In Bárbaro Rivas: Expresiones emotivas, exh. cat. (Caracas: ProArte, 2007), pp. 24-25, ill.

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Livingston, Jane. "The Art of John Alexander." In John Alexander: A Retrospective, exh. cat. (Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, with Yale University Press, 2007), p. 74, fig. 16.

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Papanikolas, Theresa, and Kevin Salatino. Doctrinal Nourishment: Art and Anarchism in the Time of James Ensor, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2008), pp. 15-16, 37, 38-39, 75, 77, 78, 80, ill.

Tricot, Xavier. "James Ensor, prince des masques." In Édouard Papet et al., Masques: De Carpeaux à Picasso, exh. cat. (Paris: Musée d'Orsay, with Hazan, 2008), p. 164.

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Jonsson, Stefan. A Brief History of the Masses: Three Revolutions (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), pp. 65-117, figs. 13.1, 17.2.

Schaffner, Ingrid. "Sources." In The Puppet Show, exh. cat. (Philadelphia: Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, 2008), p. 39, ill.

Schwartz, Sanford. "Mysteries of Ensor." The New York Review of Books (September 24, 2009), pp. 26, 30, ill.

Tricot, Xavier. James Ensor: The Complete Paintings (Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz, 2009), pp. 75-77, 86, 98, 106, 139, 176, 183, 298-99, no. 293, ill.

Clarke, Jay A. Becoming Edvard Munch: Influence, Anxiety, and Myth, exh. cat. (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, with Yale University Press, 2009), p. 164, fig. 177.

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Felix, Zdenek. "Der Demiurg ist ein Zwitter (A. K.)" / "The Demiurge is a Hybrid (A. K.)." In Die andere Seite, exh. cat. (Düsseldorf: KAI 10 / Raum für Kunst, 2010), pp. 8-9 / 13-15, ill.

Berman, Patricia G. James Ensor: De intrede van Christus in Brussel in 1889. Saskia van der Lingen, trans. (Antwerp: Ludion, 2011), passim, figs. 1-2, 14, 17, 34, 50, 55, 65, 82.

Facos, Michelle. An Introduction to Nineteenth-Century Art (New York and London: Routledge, 2011), pp. 358-60, fig. 13.15.

Glover, Michael. "Great Works: 'Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889' 1888 (252.7 cm x 430.5 cm), James Ensor." The Independent (September 16, 2011), http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/great-works/great-works-christs-entry-into-brussels-in-1889-1888-2527cm-x-4305cm-james-ensor-2355267.html (accessed September 23, 2011).

Chu, Petra ten-Doesschate. Nineteenth-Century European Art. 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2012), pp. 505-6, figs. 20-11, 20-12.

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Simon, Clémence. "Bruegel Mania." Dada 188 (2014), p. 28, ill.

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