James Ensor in bird’s-eye view: a peek inside the artist’s kitchen 

Our Ensor collection is one of the KMSKA’s greatest treasures. It truly is a goldmine – the largest ensemble of the artist’s work anywhere in the world. In this second instalment of our video series devoted to James Ensor, we pay a visit to the conservation studio and discover more about James Ensor’s creative process from the people at the Ensor Research Project.

Ensor Research Project

Researchers are applying futuristic techniques to study the 38 Ensor paintings in the KMSKA collection. Our own resident expert Herwig Todts, meanwhile, has read pretty much every word Ensor ever wrote. All of which teaches us more about the artist’s creative process.

Adam & Eva en De oestereetster

Karen Bonne and Lene Smedts of the Conservation Studio tell us more about the restoration of Adam and Eve Expelled from Paradise and The Oyster Eater. They are removing yellowed layers of varnish to reveal colours as vivid as Ensor originally intended. Not to mention uncovering little figures everyone had forgotten were actually there.

For an art historian who is also an admirer of the work, the entire creative process is fascinating. You get to watch him cook it all up like a chef in the kitchen.

Herwig Todts

Emma Lambotte

The museum purchased the masterpiece The Oyster Eater, along with many other Ensor paintings, from the proto-feminist and early Ensor enthusiast Emma Lambotte. She set out in a conservative Antwerp to emancipate herself as a woman and to represent her own artistic vision. It’s thanks to Emma that we now boast the world’s largest Ensor collection.

Ensor on a world tour

While the museum has been closed for renovation, our Ensor collection has been travelling the world. Its tour has taken it from Europe to the United States and Japan. We can’t wait to reinstall the works in our museum, in three galleries devoted entirely to James Ensor.

More Ensor

In the first instalment we looked at Ensor in the light of his time and discover how he wove a myth around himself. We also pay a visit to Ostend, where Ensor was born, walked his dogs and eventually died.

Watch the first episode


A Mals Media production for the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA)


The museum has sought to identify and notify all copyright holders in the case of reproductions from other collections. If you nevertheless think that an owner or copyright holder has been incorrectly or incompletely identified, please contact us.