Contemporary, Modern Art and Old Masters

Auction 175 - 7 March 2020

Contemporary, Modern Art and Old Masters Lot 163

Floris Jespers (Belgium / 1889 - 1965)
Bonjour Ostende (1926-27)


€ 250 000 - 350 000

"Oeuvres nouvelles. Salon de clôture" Gal. Le Centaure, Brussels 1927, cat. nr. 56
"Salon Kunst van Heden" Stadsfeestzaal, Antwerp 1928, cat. nr. 183
"Salon Kunst van Heden" Stadsfeestzaal, Antwerp 1936, cat. nr. 28
"Art Déco Belgique 1920-40" Museum van Elsene 1988; Musée d'art moderne, Villeneuve d'Ascq 1989, p. 63 / p. 10 reprod.
"Retrospectieve tentoonstelling Floris Jespers" KMSK, Antwerp; Singer Museum, Laren 1990, cat. nr. 55, p. 123 reprod.
"Floris & Oscar Jespers. De moderne jaren" Hessenhuis, Antwerp 1996, cat. nr. 115, p. 157 reprod.
"Frits Van den Berghe" PMMK, Ostend 1999-2000 n161
"Retrospectieve Floris Jespers" PMMK, Ostend 2004-05, cat. nr. 34, p. 80 reprod.
"Beaufort" Mu.Zee, Ostend 2009
"Bonjour Ostende. Ostende dans l'art international" Venetiaanse Gaanderijen, Ostend 2013, p. 173 reprod. & reprod. on the cover
"Le Centaure, Chronique artistique" nr. 9, 1927, p. 167 reprod.
"Gand Artistique, art et esthétique" nr. 6, 1927, p. 113 reprod.
"Sélection" nr. 10, 1927, p. 777 reprod.
"Variétés" nr. 2, 1928, p. 80 reprod.
"Tribord" nr. 8 (special edidition Ostend), 1931, p. 12 reprod.
"Floris Jespers" Gaston Burssens, Antwerp 1943, reprod. 17
"Floris Jespers" André De Ridder, in: Vlaamse Kunst, I, Antwerp 1952, p. 284
"Antwerp The New Spring" Jean F. Buyck, Ortelius Series, Antwerp 1991, p. 282 reprod.
"Le mouvement Sélection" Inge Henneman, in: L'Art Moderne en Belgique 1900-45, Antwerp 1992, cat. 226, p. 181 & 184 reprod.
"Paul-Gustave Van Hecke" Michel Draguet e.a., Brussels 2012, p. 39 reprod.
coll. Paul-Gustave Van Hecke, Brussels
auction Gal. Le Prisme, 08.05.1933, nr. 77 reprod.
coll. M. Van Extergem, Brussels


Ostend, Queen of Belgian seaside resorts! In the roaring twenties, the city was stage to a flamboyant social life. Bourgeoisie from all over the country came here to see, but especially to be seen. The hometown of James Ensor also developed into an artistic magnet attracting writers, artists and art dealers, such as the German painter Heinrich Campendonck, the filmmaker Henri Storck and the entourage of the Brussels gallery Le Centaure, the Casino being its epicenter. It was like The Great Gatsby on our Belgian coast.

During the summer of 1926 Floris Jespers also resided in Ostend. Beach life fascinated him, with its sunbathers, players and voyeurs, but he also noticed the unravelling of intrigues on the seawall. His painting “Bonjour Ostende”, in a strikingly large format, has masterfully succeeded in capturing the vibrating atmosphere of the roaring twenties. In 2013 it even lends its title to Xavier Tricot's exhibition, which highlights the role of Ostend in art history.

Jespers' Centaure period (1926-30) is without a doubt the apogee in his career. While his early style was strongly influenced by fauvism (as in “Ruban véronèse” (1916), also in auction), now enters the formal freedoms of cubism and surrealism : flowering patterns, stylized shapes, cheerful colors underlining the nimbleness. In "Bonjour Ostende" Jespers pushes his abstraction to its limits. Small details are scattered over the composition, like hints to be deciphered in order to reveal the key to the story. The painting is a surreal rebus.

A young couple, a gentleman and a woman, are taking a stroll on the sea dike. The characters are split in two, thus suggesting a story, like a mime game, of which the true facts remain veiled. However, hand gestures and glances speak volumes. The woman seems to turn around, which is difficult because of the tight skirt. One hand is waving off a distant ship. The other is showing a pearl necklace, trite symbol of love ‘bought'. There is also the sinister palm on the right showing a heart pierced with an arrow. The gentleman next to her is a paragon of elegance and domestic life, with his straw hat, stick and pipe. But he also wears a naval officer's insignia, indicating he travels the wide world, far away from his wife. His two heads are looking Janus-like in opposite directions. These two represent a decent bourgeois couple – but where does their heart lie? With a touch of satire, Jespers stages the theater of the mundane world.

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