Children at their Morning Toilet | MSK Gent
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Children at their Morning Toilet, 1886

  • oil paint, canvas
  • 136 x 110 cm
  • Inv. 2008-B

Public Domain

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Children at their Morning Toilet depicts a scene in the parental home of James Ensor. Originally, there was a water bowl at the feet of the left hand figure, which the artist later over painted. With this realistic detail removed, the symbolistic atmosphere is strengthened. This was the artist’s intention, because he said that the work was, in the first place, a ‘study in light’. Ensor saw the painting as a milestone in his oeuvre. It forms the conclusion to his earlier domestic scenes and illustrates his growing interest in the light and the fantastic. The presentation of the young nudes is an exception in the artist’s work. It anticipates later interpretations of the same theme by the Symbolists and Expressionists. The painting was bought in 1908 by a friend of the artist, Emma Lambotte and by the 1920s it formed part of a Belgian private collection. The work was purchased in 2008 and it is the first of the listed masterpieces to be bought by the Flemish Community.


James Ensor RKD VIAF Wikidata
Ostend 1860 - Ostend 1949
painters (artists)AAT

Title Children at their Morning Toilet
Date 1886
Period 19th century
Signatures, inscriptions, and markings signature and year bottom left: ENSOR / 1886
Collection paintings AAT
Object type oil paintings (visual works) AAT
Inventory number 2008-B
Acquisition credit long-term loan
Vlaamse Gemeenschap
Current whereabouts Work on display
IIIF Manifest
Art & Architecture Thesaurus 300124520 interior views AAT
300189808 figures (representations) AAT
Keywords Iconclass 22C light Iconclass
22C1 natural light Iconclass
22C5 reflection (light in general) Iconclass
22C8 shadow Iconclass
31A511 mirror Iconclass
31A54 washing and bathing Iconclass
31A5454 tub-bath Iconclass
31A546 toilet articles ~ washing and bathing Iconclass
31A5461 soap Iconclass
31A5462 brush, sponge, etc. (toilet articles) Iconclass
31A5463 towel Iconclass
31AA the (nude) human figure; 'Corpo humano' (Ripa) - AA - female human figure Iconclass
31AA231 standing figure - AA - female human figure Iconclass
31AA235 sitting figure - AA - female human figure Iconclass
31AA242 head turned sideways - AA - female human figure Iconclass
31AA2421 head turned to the left - AA - female human figure Iconclass
31AA5 care of the body, hygiene - AA - female human figure Iconclass
31AA51 making toilet - AA - (for) women Iconclass
31D11222 girl (child between toddler and youth) Iconclass
31D130 Maidenhood Iconclass
41A2 interior of the house Iconclass
41A23 bedroom Iconclass
41A3321 closed window Iconclass
41A421 curtains Iconclass
41A431 rugs (textiles) Iconclass
41A711 table Iconclass
41A721 chairs (furniture forms) Iconclass
41A731 case furniture Iconclass
School / Style Impressionist (style) AAT
Histoire de la peinture moderne en Flandre / Paul Haesaerts, Herman Teirlinck. - Bruxelles : Les éditions de l'arcade, 1959 (p. 75 (ill.))
James Ensor : Leven en werk ; Oeuvrecatalogus van de schilderijen / Xavier Tricot. - Brussel : Mercatorfonds, 2009 (p. 294-295, cat. 282 (ill.))
James Ensor : The Complete Paintings / Xavier Tricot. - Ostfildern : Hatje Cantz, 2009 (p. 294-295, cat. 282 (ill.))
Antwerpen - Brugge - Gent : De musea en hun kunstschatten van Van Eyck tot Magritte ; ontdek het rijke erfgoed in drie Vlaamse steden ; de Vlaamse Kunstcollectie / Geert Souvereyns, Till-Holger Borchert, Paul Vandenbroeck. - Dijon : Éditions Faton, 2007 (p. 76-77 (ill.))
James Ensor, Occasional Modernist : Ensor's artistic and social ideas and the interpretation of his art / Herwig Todts. - Turnhout : Brepols, 2018 (p. 340 (ill. 118))
The Social Context of James Ensor's Art Practice / Susan Maria Canning. - London : Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2023
Rare and Indispensable : Masterpieces from Flemish Collections (exhibition Antwerp, MAS, 31.10.2023-25.02.2024) / Thomas Leysen, Ben Van Beneden, Abigail D. Newman, Annemie de Vos, Adriaan Gonnissen. - Antwerp : MAS, 2023 ; Kontich : BAI, 2023
Zeldzaam en onmisbaar : Topstukken uit Vlaamse collecties (tentoonstelling Antwerpen, MAS, 31.10.2023-25.02.2024) / Thomas Leysen, Ben Van Beneden, Abigail D. Newman, Annemie de Vos, Adriaan Gonnissen. - Antwerpen : MAS, 2023 ; Kontich : BAI, 2023
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