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James Ensor archive

James Ensor‘s birth certificate, Ostend, City Archive
The personal papers that Ensor kept became dispersed after his death. An important part of the material found a refuge in the Archive for Contemporary Art in Belgium (AHKB), housed in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels (KMSKB). There we find the key documents such as his Memoranda, eight notebooks by Ensor‘s hand for the period 1933-1939, incoming and outgoing correspondences, lists of artworks which were for sale (with prices), overviews of private collections (such as the Snauwaert collection), copies of his speeches, lists of loans for exhibitions and tributes that the artist received.

This key archive that surfaced forty years after his death is complemented by the Liber Veritas, a sketchbook that Ensor kept from 1929 until 1941. It contains 246 drawings and was purchased in the 1950‘s by the Art Institute of Chicag Other noteworthy archival pieces found a home in institutions both in Belgium and abroad after some wanderings. From a number of these dispersed Archival material basic facts can be rendered. For the pieces that remain in private possession, this basic information is less evident.o.

Nonetheless, an important part of the Ensor archive can still be made available for research. For the first time, a virtual reconstruction is assembled from Ensor‘s personal archive. In the Archival bank of Flanders ( we get, via descriptions in records, a new view on the totality of the pieces that were assembled or received by the archive builder. The subsidiary records are described in the Archive Bank by holding location. This overview can be refined systematically and supplemented as documents surface in the public domain.

Michel Vermote (E-mail)

Archive Indexes Archive Bank:

  • Archive James Ensor (Brussels, Archive for Contemporary Art in Belgium (AHKB/KMSKB))
  • Harriot A. Fox Fund (Chicago, The Art Institute)
  • James Ensor Archive(Antwerp, Royal Museum of Fine Arts)
  • James Ensor Archive (Antwerp, AMVC-House of Literature)
  • Pierpont Morgan Library Archive (New York)