Developments in the 19th Century


Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map


Fernand Khnopff




Belgian painter, illustrator, sculptor, designer, photographer and writer. He was one of the foremost Symbolist artists and active supporters of avant-garde art in late 19th-century Belgium. His wealthy family lived in Bruges from 1859 to 1864, moved to Brussels in 1865, where Khnopff remained until his death, and spent their summers at a country home in Fosset, in the Ardennes. Fosset inspired numerous landscapes that owe a strong debt to Barbizon-style realism, which dominated advanced Belgian painting in the late 1870s. Khnopff abandoned law school in 1875, and, turning to literature and art, he studied with Xavier Mellery at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. During visits to Paris (1877–80) he admired the work of Ingres and was especially attracted to the painterly art of Rubens, Rembrandt, the Venetian Renaissance and particularly Delacroix. At the Exposition Universelle of 1878 in Paris he discovered Gustave Moreau and Edward Burne-Jones, both of whom indelibly influenced his art. He studied with Jules Lefebvre and Gustave Boulanger at the Académie Julian in Paris but was dissatisfied with their brand of Realism and continued searching for an original style and subject. He moved through a number of aesthetic options, starting with traditional allegory in his first public showing, with the Belgian exhibition society L’Essor, in 1881. The watercolour Passing Boulevard du Régent (1881), exhibited the following year, shows his awareness of current avant-garde practice with its realism and atmospheric effects. After Flaubert (1883), indebted to the striking light effects and rich impastos of Moreau’s work of the 1870s and to Gustave Flaubert’s novel La Tentation de Saint Antoine (1874), marked his lifelong fascination with literature. It explores evocative expression, which, along with his association with the Jeune Belgique literary movement, put Khnopff in the Symbolist camp. In 1883 he was a founder-member of Les XX, the most avant-garde and internationalist art group in Europe; he designed their logo and exhibited Listening to Schumann (1883), a painting characterized by a Symbolist concern for introspection and an impressionist style indebted to James Ensor’s Russian Music (1881). He also began to illustrate books at this time, producing some of his most puzzling images, for example six illustrations for Lucien Solvay’s Belle-Maman! suivi de Merveilles de la science (Paris, 1884). In the same year he exhibited for the first time at the Paris Salon.




La Vice Supreme



Un gesto de ofrenda


Un sortilege


An Angel


The Incense


Flores de sueno




A Woman's Head




Sleeping Medusa


Study of a Woman


Stephane Mallarme's Poetry


Temptation of St. Antony




El Secreto


By the Seaside


Los labios rojos


Estudio de mujeres


Une aile bleue


Caritas Aeterna


At Fosset Under the Fir Trees


The Sister of the Artist


Still Water


Head of a young English Girl


The Offering


Her long red hair like flame


L'Ange de Noel


With Georges Rodenbach A Dead City


The Veil


The Blood of the Medusa

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