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Fernand Khnopff's Red-haired Beauties

Khnopff is the most important of the Belgian Symbolists (1858-1921). Brought up in Bruges, and later in Brussels, he came of a family of magistrates and first studied law, but later turned to painting. In 1879 he went to Paris, to complete his studies in art. "There is no question that Khnopff was important at the time — his influence on many artists, e. g. on Klimt, is beyond dispute.." — — Andrea Domesle
"Khnopff was a dandy — in his habitation as much as in his pictures. His themes may be summedup in four words — pride, isolation, cruelty and disdain. He also had the dandy's fanatical interest in precision. However strange his compositions, they are never accidental. Every effect is calculated, every detail precisely and deliberately placed". — Edward Lucie-Smith. His motto was "One has only oneself".
Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist painting


Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingHead of a Woman




He was an anglophile and affirmed he had British ancestors, although there were no Anglo-Saxon roots in his genealogy -- Khnopff's ancestors had lived in Flanders since the early 17th-century but were of Austrian and Portuguese descent.
He didn't deny the legend of his acquaintance with Dante Gabriel Rossetti, although for the first time Khnopff visited England 10 years after the death of a great artist and communicated only with his sister.

Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingWith Georges Rodenbach. A Dead City


All his life Khnopff had been avoiding visits to Bruges in belief that his childhood memories would be defiled with the change of the urban landscape. Indeed, in the early 20-th century Bruges became a place of tourist pilgrimage. Around 1907, however, the artist had to travel there. Right from the station he took a cab and crossed the city in a specially made scores black glasses.
For 40 years he had been painting Bruges from memory and photographs - often deserted buildings and blocks, deserted, but neat and well-groomed, with no signs of fauna and flora. «Abandoned City» (1904)is one of his best works.

Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist painting
The Abandoned Town


The family tomb of the Khnopffs in the cemetery of town of Bruges is decorated with a coat of arms with a gryphon - this mystical beast was always Khnopff's personal symbol.
The feminine types he used in his compositions all seem to be based upon his sister Marguerite, whose beauty obsessed him. "The Caress" is one of the most famous works, where the sphinx with Marguerite's face and a leopard body (a medieval symbol of lust) clings to a androgynous young man with a spear, again, with the features of his sister.

Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingThe Caress

Christine Rossetti, the sister of the famous Pre-Raphaelite Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was also his model until her marriage. The title for this famous painting "I Locked The Door Upon Myself" he took from Christine's poem.

Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingI Locked The Door Upon Myself



Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingBruges. La Morte


Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingListening to Flowers

Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist painting
Head of an English Girl



Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingMelisande



Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingStudy of Women the kiss


Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingIn Fosset. An Evening


Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingIn Fosset, a Stream


Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingIn Fosset, Under the Fir Trees

Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingMemories

Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingStil Water


Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingWith Gregoire Le Roy. My Heart cries for the Past


Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingWho Shall Deliver Me?


Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingThe Cigarette

Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingThe Offering

Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingThe Silver Tiara

Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist painting

Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingA Blue Wing

Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingSleeping Medusa
Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingRequiem


Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingThe Veil

Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingThe Meeting of Animalism and an Angel

Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingThe Incense

Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingSelf-Portrait

Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingSelf-Portrait

In 1900s he had a house built to his own plans, for his own satisfaction; it was like one of the structures in his pictures, a house out of a dream with false windows - expression of his own personality. Villa Khnopff was decorated internally using only white, blue and gold. Black was used for the doors, frames and windows.
Until Villa Khnopff was constructed in 1900-2, Khnopff lived at his parents' home -- he was briefly married between 1908-1911. His first studio, which he used throughout the late 1880s and 1890s, is today the location of a bar/restaurant named Le Khnopff.
Khnopff died in 1921, a studio sale was held the following year. In the 1930s, Villa Khnopff was demolished with the approval of Khnopff's family.

Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingThe Villa of F.K.


Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingThe White Room


Fernand Khnopff Belgian Symbolist painter,Belgian artists,Modern art,Symbolist paintingThe Blue Room



More on Khnopff :
bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/fnart/art/khnopff.html#essay
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fernand_Khnopff




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