Yet for Ensor, there was no place like home. In his lifetime, he only left Ostend for a short period of time when he went to develop his talents at the art academy in Brussels. The rest of his days were spent against a backdrop of the calming sounds of the North Sea. So, where better to learn about him? It was in Ostend that he was born, painted his masterpieces and breathed his last breath.
The Ensor House, which is just a stone's throw from the North Sea beach, is a must-visit for fans of this modern master. This is where Ensor lived and worked during the last thirty years of his life. The house still honours his legacy today. But Ensor's house now also has a brand-new visitor centre, which highlights the master’s life and work. Themed rooms and temporary exhibitions shed light on various aspects of his life and work.
The art museum Mu.ZEE, just a 15 minute walk from the James Ensor House, provides more insight into Ensor's world with its permanent collection. Aside from these two highlights, there is plenty more to learn about Ensor and his Ostend, as you can discover here.
Ostend was Ensor's first love, that much is clear, although he also had a soft spot for Brussels where he rekindled his artistic individuality. There he co-founded Les XX (Les Vingt), an innovative group of artists that brought a new dynamic to the art world. In the newly-opened Centre for Fine Arts (Bozar), he had his biggest and most important retrospective. Today you can still see some of his masterpieces in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels (KMSKB).