Contemporary, Modern Art and Old Masters

Auction 178 - 6 March 2021

Contemporary, Modern Art and Old Masters Lot 176

James Ensor (Belgium / 1860 - 1949)
Portrait d'Augusta Boogaerts assise (ca. 1930)


€ 90 000 - 120 000

"James Ensor" The Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv 1981, nr. 40
"James Ensor - Dipinti, Disegni, Incisioni"
Palazzo dei Conservatori, Rome 1981, nr. 20
"James Ensor" Kunsthaus, Zurich 1983, nr. 96
"James Ensor" KMSK, Antwerp 1983, nr. 103
"James Ensor" Museum of Modern Art, Kobe 1983-84, nr. 67
"James Ensor - Belgien um 1900" Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich 1989, nr. 42
"James Ensor" Musée du Petit Palais, Paris 1990, nr. 220
"Ensor" KMSK, Brussels 1999-2000, nr. 181
"James Ensor. Leven en werk. Oeuvrecatalogus van de schilderijen" Xavier Tricot, Mercatorfonds, Brussels 2009, cat. nr. 606 ill.
coll. Augusta Boogaerts, Brussels
coll. Dr. Denonne, Brussels


As virtuoso an artist with pen and brush, as clumsy Ensor was in his contact with the opposite sex. "Faithless and heartless" he calls them, "a pond of hypocrisy and malice, cave of robbery and mortal sin, Pandora's box". The many muses that coloured his life and his work must have been quite special. There were, among others, Emma Lambotte (his patron), Mariette Rousseau (his platonic love) and Alice Frey (who boasted being his 'only student' and 'more than just a friend'). And then there was Augusta Boogaerts (1870-1951).

Ensor and Augusta met at the end of the 1880's. They would never marry, nor would they ever live together but they would have a lifelong friendship that significantly influenced the work of the artist, despite her occasionally obnoxious character. Ensor called her 'the Siren'. She was the one to compose his still lifes, who selected shelves and paraphernalia and who handled the sales of his works of art, even after his death.

The special relationship between the two is depicted in an enigmatic way in the portrait here at auction. In soft, bright colours, a fragile Augusta is represented. Ensor shows her in a loving way but her look is without emotion and mysterious. We cannot grasp the psyche of this woman. Augusta is not alone in the room. Behind her we can see the contours of the painting "Ensor et Leman discutant peinture". In this work, the other woman, Mariette Rousseau, stands between a squabbling Ensor and Gerard Leman. A desperate mask floats above her. The various actors in this scene suggest that there's more to it…

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