This archived website ‘James Ensor. An online museum.’ is temporarily not being updated. Certain functionality (e.g. specific searches in the collection) may no longer be available. News updates about James Ensor will appear on Questions about this website? Please contact us at

3 New online contributions Ensor Research Project

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA) launched an Ensor Research Project. The museum possesses the world's largest and most varied collection of work by James Ensor and strives to become the leading centre of expertise in art-historical and material technical research into the oeuvre of this Belgian artist.

The material and technical research into the paintings of James Ensor is performed at the museum's conservation workshop. In a series of articles, the KMSKA tries to familiarise the public with the research methods and techniques applied.

Over half of the thirty-eight Ensor paintings in the KMSKA collection show evidence of scratching in the paint layers. Sometimes scratching in painting has been applied quite deliberately for effect. In the contribution Ensor's scratching technique, restorer Karen Bonne discusses three examples of Ensor's deliberate use of the scratching technique, also known as sgraffito.

Fingermarks are not readily associated with art, yet keen observers will be aware that they occur quite commonly in paintings. In the article Fingerprints and thumb marks, restorer Karen Bonne discusses some fingermarks in the work of James Ensor.

The KMSKA preserves no fewer than thirty-eight paintings by James Ensor, pieces for which the museum receives exceptionally many loan request for exhibitions in Belgium and abroad. Together, the paintings have travelled on over 1500 occasions to 260 or so exhibitions. In almost half of these shows, the work of Ensor took centre stage. In the article The many travels of the Mask Wouse, Nanny Schrijvers describes the exhibition history of The Astonishment of the Mask Wouse, one of the showpieces in the KMSKA collection.

(News item 20 March 2014)