Théo Van Rysselberghe (Gand, 1862 - Lavandou, 1926)
Belgian painter, engraver, illustrator, designer and sculptor
Théo Van Rysselberghe entered the Academy of Brussels in 1880 under the directorship of Jean-François Portaels. Paintings of the latter, featuring North African motives strongly influenced the young artist. His works from that period reflected the Belgian realistic tradition showing large brush strokes and sombre colours.
Van Rysselberghe’s interest shifted soon to Impressionism. Already after his first trip to Spain and Morocco in 1882 his palette lightened up and the tonality became warmer. A turning point in his career was his first contact with Neo-Impressionism at the eighth impressionist exhibition in Paris (1886). Georges Seurat's pointillist icone La Grande Jatte made him an adept of the new movement. Van Rysselberghe painted a series of remarkable portraits, numerous landscapes and seascapes. The colours were bright, the decomposition of light masterly.
In the late 1890s, Théo van Rysselberghe’s neo-impressionist style peaked. But his interest in this movement faded after a conflict with Signac regarding the strict use of the pointillist technique. In order to refine his approach to nature, his use of dots became increasingly less orthodox. After 1910 his brush strokes were longer, the palette more vivid and with intensified contrasts. He successfully incorporated the transparency of light and the illusion of shimmering heat in his artworks.
In 1911 he moved with his family to Saint Clair, France where he continued painting Mediterranean landscapes, portraits and decorative murals. The female nude became prominent in his monumental paintings. In 1922 the Galerie Georges Giroux, Brussels organised an important one-man-show of his works. Four years later the artist died in Lavandou, France.