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Theo von Rysselberghe

Theo von Rysselberghe

*  1862 Gent
† 1926 Saint-Clair

Van Rysselberghe, who comes from a very wealth family, initially becomes a student at the Académie de Gand with Canneel, and then moves to Brussels to study with Portaels. He makes many journeys, during which he paints and exhibits. He spends the summers during his Paris years on the coast of the English Channel, where his artist colleagues also love to work and spend their holidays. Finally, he settles in Saint-Clair in Provence. He is one of the founder members of the 'Groupe des XX', which is committed to an artistic exchange between France and Belgium, and the association known as 'Libre Esthétique', in whose exhibitions he participates, along with a number organised by the 'Salon des Indépendants'. In his early creative phase, he adopts a traditional style of painting, which is rather heavy and dark, although it is still very influenced by the orientalism of Portael. In 1884, Rysselberghe travels to Spain and Morocco, and after this, the colours in his paintings are 'brightened'; however, he also discovers his love of the portrait. In around 1886, he becomes friends with Verhaeren, who takes him to Paris where, for the first time, he sees the vast painting 'La Grande Jatte' by Seurat, which leave a lasting impression on him. From 1887, he adopts the divisionist technique of the Neo-Impressionists for his own works, although he finds a resolution that is variable for him, particularly in the portraits. In addition, he also tries his hand at landscape painting. Together with Henry van de Velde, Rysselberghe tries to renew decorative art by designing posters, furniture, jewellery and typographic ornaments in the 'nouveau style'. In addition, during this time he creates large murals which he is commissioned to provide by architects. In 1898, he leaves Brussels to join the literary circle of the Symbolists in Paris. His pallet is increasingly dominated by the style and motifs of Neo-Impressionism, as we can see in his 'Baigneuses' or marine landscapes. In his later works, which he creates in Provence, we see a move towards the style of the Fauves and the looser brush strokes. His paintings can be seen, for example, in the national museums of Amsterdam and Brussels and in the Boymans Museum, Rotterdam and the Folkwang Museum, Essen.