James Ensor was born in Ostend, Belgium in 1860. Ensor began painting at the age of sixteen and in 1877 he attended the Academie Royale des Beaux Arts in Brussels, Belgium. He was not impressed by the formal teachings there and his teachers were taken aback by his impudence.
After 1885, Ensor was influenced by the nightmarish art by earlier Flemish artists Pieter Bruegel and Hieronymus Bosch. During this same time, he etched what was thought to be his finest engraving “The Cathedral”.
After 1900, Ensor’s style became less aggressive and he produced fewer and fewer notable works. By 1929, he had finally achieved international recognition, exhibiting in Antwerp, Paris, New York and Brussels. He was made a baron by King Albert I of Belgium in 1929. Twenty years later, in 1949, he died at the age of 89.