collection
oilpainting: 101 cm x 61 cm
1995-A

Skeleton Looking at Chinoiserie constitutes a turning point in James Ensor’s œuvre: he introduces the iconographic motif of a skeleton and leaves behind the impressionistic depiction of reality he had practised until then. The painting gives us a view into a room in which a figure is looking at a Japanese (therefore not Chinese as in the title) picture book. Around 1888 Ensor had the habit of reworking his paintings and giving them a new and fantastic content. In Skeleton Looking at Chinoiserie, Ensor restricts himself to two small interventions that nevertheless fundamentally alter the content of the painting: he adds a skull at the lower left, and the sitting figure has also acquired a skull.