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Léon Spilliaert (1881-1946) | Symbolist painter

Léon Spilliaert, also Leon Spilliaert, was a Belgian🎨 symbolist painter and graphic artist.
Spilliaert was born in Ostend, the oldest of seven children of Léonard-Hubert Spilliaert, a perfumer, and his wife Léonie (née Jonckheere).
From childhood, he displayed an interest in art and drawing. A prolific doodler and autodidact, he was predominantly a self-taught artist.

Sickly and reclusive, he spent most of his youth sketching scenes of ordinary life and the Belgian countryside.
When he was 21, Spilliaert went to work in Brussels for Edmond Deman, a publisher of the works of symbolist writers, which Spilliaert was to illustrate.
He especially admired the work of Edgar Allan Poe🎨.
Watercolor, gouache, pastel, and charcoal - often in combination - were the means by which he produced many of his best works, among which are a number of monochrome self-portraits executed in the early years of the twentieth century.
Spilliaert's expressive use of black finds parallels in the work of Odilon Redon🎨, who was a significant influence.
Frequently depicting a lone figure in a dreamlike space, Spilliaert's paintings convey a sense of melancholy and silence.
His later work shows a concentration on seascapes.
He died on 23 November 1946 in Brussels.

1922 - Knight of the Order of the Crown.


Among the best-known works of Léon Spilliaert are the images Digue la nuit and Clair de Lune et Lumières. Both works are in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
Most of Spilliaert's works are marked by an oppressive alien and elegiac atmosphere.
"In Digue la nuit" (1908), the painter removes any naturalistic characteristics of the landscape depicted in the image and creates a stylization in which the location, that serves as a template, is redesigned to become the mirror of a state of mind.
Solitude, mystery, and hallucination are suggested by the landscape.
"In Clair de Lune et Lumières" (c. 1909), the colonnade and arcades of the façade of the Kursaal ballroom on the seawall in Ostend served Spilliaert as a basis for the composition of an urban landscape.

In this pastel painting, he catches the eerie transformation of the architecture at night and the strangeness that comes from artificial lighting.
With its cosmic, metaphysical traits "Clair de Lune et Lumières" reveals the influence of Van Gogh🎨, and is reminiscent of "The Starry Night".
In the period 1902-1909, Spilliaert concentrated on creating complex, profound self-portraits of introspective nature.
His 1903 self-portrait (Portrait de l'artiste par lui-même) is a dramatic self-presentation with ghostly apparitions in the background and a wry face in three-quarter pose.
This image can be identified as a prototype for the three-quarter-portraits Spilliaert created later. |© Wikipedia

Léon Spilliaert, conosciuto anche Leon Spilliaert, (28 luglio 1881-23 novembre 1946) fu un pittore simbolista🎨 Belga.
Spilliaert nacque a Ostenda, il maggiore di sette figli di Léonard-Hubert Spilliaert, un profumiere, e sua moglie Léonie (nata Jonckheere).
Fin dall'infanzia, ha mostrato interesse per l'arte ed il disegno.
Un prolifico scarabocchio e autodidatta, era prevalentemente un artista autodidatta.
Malaticcio e solitario, trascorse gran parte della sua gioventù disegnando scene della vita ordinaria e della campagna belga.

Quando aveva 21 anni, Spilliaert andò a lavorare a Bruxelles per Edmond Deman, un editore delle opere di scrittori simbolisti, che Spilliaert avrebbe dovuto illustrare.
Ha particolarmente ammirato il lavoro di Edgar Allan Poe.
Acquarello, tempera, pastello e carboncino - spesso in combinazione - erano i mezzi con cui produceva molte delle sue opere migliori, tra cui una serie di autoritratti monocromatici eseguiti nei primi anni del ventesimo secolo.
L'uso espressivo del nero da parte di Spilliaert trova parallelismi nell'opera di Odilon Redon🎨, che ebbe un'influenza significativa.
Spesso raffigurando una figura solitaria in uno spazio onirico, i dipinti di Spilliaert trasmettono un senso di malinconia e silenzio. Il suo lavoro successivo mostra una concentrazione sui paesaggi marini.
Muore il 23 novembre 1946 a Bruxelles.