Oil painting: 136 cm x 110 cm

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.