Exterminating Angel (L’Ange Exterminateur)


James Ensor (1860-1949), Exterminating Angel (L’Ange Exterminateur), etching with drypoint, 1889, signed and dated in pencil lower right, also titled and countersigned verso. References: Delteil 77, Croquez 77, Elesh 77, Taevernier 77; second (final) state. In very good condition, on a Japan paper with wide margins, (remains of old hinging verso showing through at extreme corners). 4 3/4 x 6 1/8, the sheet 7 3/4 x 11 1/8 inches.

A fine impression printed in a grey/black ink, with substantial plate tone.

Provenance: ex Collection Johannes Hendricus de Bois (1878-1946), with his mark recto lower left corner (Lugt 733).

Only a few impressions of a first state of this print are known; one definitively identified in 2002 by Eric Gillis and Patrick Florizoone, published in the catalogue on Ensor prints presented for sale by CG Boerner.

Gillis and Florizoone note that this print “combines a Catholic element, the destroying angel of the apocalypse with the Flemish proverb ‘to go in one’s pants from fear.’ In his catalogue of the graphic works of Ensor, Albert Croquez made the link between this work and the painting [and print] by Henri Rousseau titled La Guerre. It is not very likely that the painting influenced Ensor, but it is possible that both artists were inspired by the same source, namely the parody of Le Tsar, published in the French magazine L’Egalite on October 6, 1889.”