Theodore Rysselberghe was born in 1862 to a wealthy family in France. He studied art at both the Academy of Ghent and the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. Early on in his studies, he was strongly influenced by the orientalist style. This would lead him down a path towards impressionism. He would become best know for his work in the Neo Impressionist painting and his masterful use of the pointillist technique.
In 1883, Theodore Rysselberghe became one of the co-founders of the Belgian artistic group called Les XX. This group was made up of young avant-garde artists that rebelled against the academism of that time and the artistic standards it held in such high regard. This group introduced Rysselberghe to other influential artists such as James Ensor, Auguste Rodin, James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Paul Signac. He and Signac would become good friends and inspire each other in their artistic endeavors.
Theodore Rysselberghe would make three trips to Morocco during his career. Many of his paintings show Arabian street scenes and markets. His travels there also taught him how to use light for dramatic affect. His keen awareness of the affect of light can be seen in many of his paintings throughout his career. In the late 1880’s, Rysselberghe began to paint in the pointillist style after seeing Seurat’s work. Georges Seurat had shown La Grande Jatte at the eighth Impressionist exhibition in Paris in 1886. Works of this style by Rysselberghe are some of his best and most sought after pieces.
After 1910, his work became more loose and relaxed. His brushstrokes were longer and his color pallet was bold with strong contrasts. By 1911, Theodore Rysselberghe retired to the Côte d’Azur, but he continued to paint the Mediterranean landscapes and portraits. Art history views him as one of the most important Neo Impressionist painters.