South African 1906-1977Online Works
Maurice van Essche was born in Antwerp, Belgium, and studied at the Brussels Academy of Fine Art under the famed expressionist and symbolist painter, James Ensor. After graduating, the young artist working in a stained glass studio and for a wallpaper manufacturer, before studying briefly with Henri Matisse in France. In July 1939, Van Essche won a scholarship and was commissioned by the Belgian Government to undertake a painting expedition to the Belgian Congo. When Belgium was invaded by Germany during WWII, the artist’s wife and son joined him in the Congo and in 1940 the family moved to Cape Town. Van Essche was prominent in the Cape art community as an active member of the New Group, and as a lecturer at the Michaelis School of Fine Art he influenced a generation of younger artists. He retired in 1962 and lived out his last years in France. The influence of his training and youthful experiences can be seen in his paintings of still life subjects, fishermen, harlequins, and figures in Cape and Congolese landscapes. His style is a combination of rich colour with deft line work and is instantly recognisable.
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