James Ensor in London this autumn

Lot 19 Ensor, Le Pisseur

This September, Sotheby’s will offer for sale a private collection of prints by Belgian artist James Ensor. It will be one of the most comprehensive of its kind ever to come to auction. Ensor is perhaps best known as “the painter of masks”, an epithet which has often overshadowed his achievements in printmaking, which will be represented in 78 lots in Sotheby’s sale of Prints & Multiples in London on 27 September 2016.

The image above is Le pisseur, an etching from 1887 (estimate £5,000 – 7,000 / €6,000 – 8,400 ). Ensor is paying homage to the eponymous drawing by Jacques Callot, now in the Uffizi, Florence. While Callot shows his pisser as a street jester, Ensor depicts a smart gentleman in a top hat urinating on a wall scrawled with the phrase ‘ENSOR EST UN FOU’ (Ensor is a madman); a rather literal response, perhaps, to his many critics.

Ensor will be back in the art calendar later this year. In the autumn the Royal Academy of Arts in London will stage ‘Intrigue: James Ensor by Luc Tuymans’ (29 October 2016 until 29 January 2017), which will bring together some 70 paintings, drawings and prints by the artist. As the exhibition’s title suggests, it will be curated by Belgium artist Luc Tuymans.

Exhibition and auction at Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s Brussels, rue Jacques Jordaens 32, 1000, Thursday 8 – Friday 9 September 2016

Sotheby’s London, 34-35 New Bond Street, W1A 2AA, Friday 23 – Monday 26 September 2016

The auction will take place in London at 10.30am on Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts

‘Intrigue: James Ensor by Luc Tuymans’, 29 October 2016 until 29 January 2017

Read more of my writing on art here.

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About Jonathan R Jones

Writing on art, interiors, food and lifestyle at jonathanrjones.wordpress.com

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