Belgian artist James Ensor lived most of his life in Ostend, where he was born in 1860. From 1877 to 1880 he studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. Initially a portrait painter, Ensor soon established an avant-garde group of artists called ‘Les XX’ (the Twenty). They rejected the conservatism of the official art establishments of the time and sought to promote new artistic ideas throughout Europe. Much of Ensor’s work was controversial; he frequently used Christian motifs to express his contempt for what he saw as an increasingly inhumane world of political and social injustice. Ensor achieved greater recognition in the latter years of his life, and had a significant influence on twentieth century expressionist and surrealist artist.