Theo Van Rysselberghe: An artist of Influence

Katherine19th Century Art, 20th Century Art, Artist Spotlight, European Paintings, ImpressionismLeave a Comment

"Coastal Scene" The National Gallery, London

“Coastal Scene”
The National Gallery, London

Coastal Scene is a dazzling display of light. The beauty of this work lies in the minimalism. The only colors are white and blue, but the brushwork gives the water the illusion of movement. It is easy to envision the shimmering shore on a calm summer day. This seemingly effortless technique is characteristic of the works of Theo Van Rysselberghe. One of the leaders of the Belgian Neo-Impressionism movement, the art of Van Rysselberghe is peaceful and captivating.

Theo Van Rysselberghe was born in 1862 in Ghent, Belgium. He studied art at Academie Royale dew Beaux-Arts in Brussels. While attending school, he worked under its director, Jean-Francois Portaels. Portaels was known for Orientalist works and Van Rysselbergh was among his admirers. This inspired him to travel to Spain and Morocco, like Portaels, for inspiration. During his travels, he recorded pleasant scenes of life abroad.

Upon his return, Theo Van Rysselberghe became acquainted with the raising European art scene. Neo-Impressionism was the newest and most provocative movements of the time. It had originated in France as Impressionism’s successor. The goal of Impressionism was to record a stylistic, but realistic depiction of the scene. Neo-Impressionism went a step further and focused more on light and color than realism.

This movement was divided into two schools of thought, Pointillism and Divisionism. Van Rysselberghe was more interested in Pointillism, which is characterized by precise dots, or points, of paint. Typically, a Pointillist artist would use primary colors and mix them into other shades within each brushstroke.

Theo Van Rysselberghe helped found two of the most important Neo-Impressionistic associations – Les XX (Twenty) and La Libre Esthetique (Free Aesthetics). Among his most influential works was a series of portraits he crafted in both indoor and outdoor settings. These works showcase his brilliant use of light and talent at recreating reality in fine, intricate dots.

Near the end of the 19th century, Theo Van Rysselberghe moved away from Pointillism and towards decorative art. During this phase, he primarily created jewelry, stained glass, and murals. This included a commission of a mural in Victor Horta’s Hotel Solvay House in Brussels. Despite this shift, he is still recalled as among the most influential of the Pointillist artists.


Ackerman’s Fine Art specializes in Fine Art Paintings from 19th-21st century Europe and America. To buy or sell original paintings by  Theo Van Rysselberghe, contact Ackerman’s Fine Art here.

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