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The first exhibition in Switzerland to offer a comprehensive overview of Belgian painting at the end of the 19th century

James Ensor (1860 – 1949) Les masques intrigués, 1930, huile sur toile, 50,5 x 61,5 cm Fondation Emanuel Hoffmann,
prêt permanent à la Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel © photo Kunstmuseum Basel, Martin Bühler © 2007, ProLitteris, Zurich

The Fondation de l’Hermitage is presenting the first exhibition in Switzerland to offer a comprehensive overview of Belgian painting at the end of the 19th century, highlighting the seminal ‘XX’ and ‘Libre Esthétique’ groups which, within just three decades, saw Belgian artists emerging among the most innovative of Europe’s avant-garde. With over a hundred paintings and drawings, the exhibition reveals the outstanding painters of this period, revolving around the main movements which left their mark on those crucial years: Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism, Symbolism and Expressionism.

All the wealth and variety of artistic production in Europe

The Fondation de l’Hermitage already paid homage to 20th century Belgian art in 1987 with an exhibition devoted to Magritte. In 1998, Pointillism. In Seurat’s Footsteps also included works by several Belgian painters, notably Lemmen and Van Rysselberghe. Belgium unveiled, from Impressionism to Expressionism is yet another stage in its exploration of the great Western artistic movements of the 19th century. The exhibition curator is American art historian William Hauptman, author of the catalogue raisonné on Charles Gleyre, who has worked with the Fondation de l’Hermitage on several major events such as The Golden Age of English Watercolours (1999), American Impressionism (2003) and Impressions of the North. Scandinavian Painting (2005) which gave so many visitors the opportunity of discovering all the wealth and variety of artistic production in Europe and across the Atlantic.

From the group of "Les XX " to The "Libre Esthétique"

Established in Brussels in 1883 and led by Octave Maus, the group of ‘Les XX’ was to have a remarkable impact on late 19th century Belgian art for more than ten years by introducing the major tendencies in contemporary international art. At odds with the mainstream, the circle encouraged new talents at its annual Salons and, among its members, included artists such as Anna Boch, James Ensor, Fernand Khnopff, Félicien Rops, Henry Van de Velde and Théo Van Rysselberghe. The ‘Libre Esthétique’ association, which took over in 1894, continued to organise modern and independent art exhibitions right up to the onset of the First World War. Thanks to these two unique and committed groups, the Belgian art scene changed completely. Within a generation, painters became the forerunners of the international artistic avant-garde, while developing a style which reflected their own particular identity and sensitivity, as in the enigmatic Portrait de Marguerite, painted by Khnopff in circa 1887, whose disturbing strangeness and melancholy pay tribute to the exceptional accomplishment of Belgian painting during those essential years in the history of modernity.

The forerunners of the international artistic avant-garde

Among artists at the core of the exhibition : Anna Boch, Emile Claus, William Degouve de Nuncques, Jean Delville, James Ensor, Henri Evenepoel, William Alfred Finch, Léon Frédéric, Fernand Khnopff, Georges Le Brun, Georges Lemmen, Xavier Mellery, Théo Van Rysselberghe, Félicien Rops, Léon Spilliaert, Henry Van de Velde. The works come from major public Belgian collections such as the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Anvers, the Musée d’Ixelles and the Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique in Brussels, the Groeninge Museum in Bruges, the Musée d’Art moderne et d’Art contemporain de la Ville de Liège, as well as the Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Ostende. The Petit Palais in Geneva, the Kunstmuseum in Basel and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and many private collections in Belgium, France and Switzerland have also supported this exhibition with their loans

Special activities

Adults: guided tours, lectures, special evenings
Children: workshops, free brochures
Information : www.fondation-hermitage.ch
bookings: tel. +41 (0)21 320 50 01


Catalogue, co-edited by Fondation de l’Hermitage and Editions 5 Continents, Milan. Texts by William Hauptman and Michel Draguet, Director General of the Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, with a biography of each artist 176 pages, 24 x 29 cm, 144 color illustrations, reproducing the works exhibited.
ISBN 10 : 88-7439-374-1, ISBN 13 : 978-88-7439-374-9.
Price at the museum: CHF 54.- (35 €)

Illustration : William Degouve de Nuncques (1867 – 1935) Paysage, effet de nuit, 1896, pastel sur papier, 49,2 x 66,7 cm Bruxelles, Musée d’Ixelles © photo Mixed Media, Bruxelles

The exhibition is placed under the High Patronage of Her Majesty Queen Paola of Belgium and of Federal Counsellor Pascal Couchepin, Head of the Federal Department of the Interior.

To see more illustrations, click on VERSION FRANCAISE at the top of this page

FONDATION DE L'HERMITAGE 2, route du Signal, 1000 Lausanne 8, Switzerland
INFORMATION: Tel. +41 (0)21 320 50 01 Fax +41 (0)21 320 50 71 Site: www.fondation-hermitage.ch
E-mail: info@fondation-hermitage.ch
OPENING HOURS: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursdays 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Open on Easter Monday, April 9, 2007 and on Whit Monday, May 28, 2007 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
ADMISSION FEES: Adults: CHF 15, Seniors: CHF 12, Students: CHF 7 Free under 18, Reduced prices for groups
CURATOR: William Hauptman,
PRESS CONTACTS: Fondation de l’Hermitage, Lausanne Tel. +41 (0)21 320 50 01 E-mail: info@fondation-hermitage.ch
L’Observatoire, Paris Tel. +33 (0)1 43 54 87 71 E-mail: contact@observatoire.fr