Ensor Research Project


The Ensor Research Project was launched by the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA) in 2013.

James Ensor working in is studio, KMSKA archives

The museum aspires to becoming the reference centre for art-historical and material technical-research into the oeuvre of James Ensor. The central focus is on the creative process, from concept to finished painting. The findings of the Ensor Research Project are published on the museum website on a regular basis.

Theoretical and Art-Historical Perspectives

The museum's Ensor project combines two approaches. The first perspective consists of research into the theoretical foundations of the artistic choices that Ensor made. The focal points in this line of research are the reception of Ensor's work by art critics and art historians and a ‘close reading’ of Ensor's published and unpublished writings. The second approach is that of traditional art-historical research into the primary sources (archival materials), as well as the iconographic (the meaning of the images), technical and stylistic characteristics of Ensor's oeuvre. The results of occasional material-technical research involving X-ray and infrared photography or the Portable X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer are also incorporated into the research results.


Step by step, the research project will contribute to the publication of various subcatalogues of the drawings (1873-80, 1880-85, 1885-1900, 1900-49), documents and archival materials, as well as the thirty-eight paintings by Ensor in the KMSKA collection. Together with Ensor experts form other institutions, the researchers of KMSKA also prepared the launch of the virtual Ensor museum of the Flemish Art Collection.

James Ensor, Het Schilderend geraamte, KMSKA Ensor's Creative Process: Technique, Concept, Image

20 November 2015 

As the Ensor Research Project's final goal is to better understand all aspects of James Ensor's creative processes, this symposium will present a mid-term state of affairs, evaluating the present state of technical and scientific findings along with current theoretical, stylistic, iconographical and historical investigations.

We welcome papers on Ensor's life and work as well as discussions and research of creative processes in the work of his predecessors and contemporaries

A collaboration between the University of Antwerp and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp. 

Research Articles

The following articles have previously been published as part of the Ensor Research Project:



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