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New acquisition: etching by Ensor

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Inname van een vreemde stad, James Ensor
Capture of a Strange Town, James Ensor

New to the collection: Capture of a Strange Town, an etching by James Ensor. With thanks to a friend of the museum.

The KMSKA owns the richest collection anywhere of paintings and drawings by James Ensor. The modern master from Ostend’s printmaking, by contrast, is somewhat less well represented, although we do have several intriguing prints by Ensor, including ones that he made for the special portfolios produced by ‘Kunst van Heden’. The Antwerp-based art society presented these to its most generous members. We were recently able to add the 1888 etching Capture of a Strange Town to our collection of Ensor prints.


The iconography of the etching is very intriguing. The foreground is occupied by carnival-goers who form a crowd of spectators watching the advance of a huge mass of soldiers. The military presence is only visible, however, in the shape of countless lances and the occasional banner. The numerous details referring to Babylon suggest that Ensor might have been parodying an image of Alexander the Great, who conquered that city in 331 BCE.

Inname van een vreemde stad, James Ensor, detail
Carnival-goers in the foreground
Inname van een vreemde stad, James Ensor, detail
Countless lances represent the soldiers capturing the town
Inname van een vreemde stad, James Ensor, detail
Numerous details refer to the city of Babylon

With thanks to a good friend

We were able to add this etching to our Ensor collection thanks to a gift of Ludo Devaux, a long-standing member of the Friends of the KMSKA. In addition to this work, he presented the museum with a drawing by the 19th-century history painter Willem Geets.

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