Peculiar Insects, 1888
drypoint on wove paper
14 x 19.6 cm; plate: 11.8 x 15.8 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 18366)
© Estate of James Ensor / SABAM (Brussels) / SODRAC (Montréal)
The oddball Ensor was a recluse in his native Ostend, but flourished briefly in Brussels in the cultivated company of the Rousseau family. This is a double-portrait of Ensor and his protector, Mariette Rousseau, wife of Ernest Rousseau, physics professor and rector (from 1884 to 1886) of the University of Brussels. Their son, also named Ernest, was an entomologist who became Ensor's lifelong friend. For unknown reasons, Ensor has placed Mariette's head on the body of a dragonfly and his own head on that of a May-bug. Ensor's other self-portraits are similarly peculiar.