An entry in the Album presented to the Misses SCOTT in July 1916 caught my eye early on : that of a Madame ENSOR from Ostend.
Was there a connection to Ostend resident, the painter James ENSOR (1860-1949), son of an English father and Belgian mother? His mother perhaps? An aunt? Research revealed that he himself stayed in Ostend throughout the war, and that his mother died there in 1915. So not her.
However, his sister Marie (‘Mietche’), used the name ‘Madame ENSOR’ following a failed marriage to Alfred John Taen-Hee-Tsen. Could this be her? It was known that she was in England during the First World War.
And there was more : on the same page was an Augusta BOOGAERTS of 54 rue de Theux, Brussels. That was the names of James ENSOR’s life-long close friend (some thought mistress) whom he called “La Sirène” and whom he painted on a number of occasions. And she lived at 54 rue de Theux in Brusssels…
And digging a little more I found that Mietche’s daughter Mariette, known as Alex, had married a Richard Jules DAVELUY in 1908 – and that was the name of the Secretary to the Club Albert in Tunbridge Wells –
Monsieur R.J. DAVELUY – later in the album signing his name as Rich. Jules DAVELUY. And alongside his inscription were Alex and their son Jules.
Must be them…
27 rue de Flandre is now the Ensor Museum in Ostend. I visited it last month : what a treat! (And also a fabulous exhibition at the MuZEE of works by the two great Ostend artists, ENSOR and Leon SPILLIAERT….)
Next stop the Archives in Brussels and the Refugees Registration documents, where I found the confirmation I was after (apologies for the blurred photos…) :
Marie ENSOR and her daughter ‘Alex’ had lived with the painter and were very close. Alex was only 15 when she married Casino croupier Richard DAVELUY. Her uncle opposed the marriage and there was a falling-out which lasted for a number of years.
James ENSOR met 18yr old Augusta BOOGAERTS, daughter of an Ostende hotelier, in 1888 in his mother’s shop (where Augusta was working for a short time), and so began a life-long friendship. The story goes that his mother opposed their friendship, and even after her death, they never lived together.
And my favourite :
COMING SOON to London : An ENSOR Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, 29th October 2016-29th January 2017. Very excited!
“The theatrical, the satirical and the macabre come together in arresting fashion in the art of James Ensor. Curated by Luc Tuymans, this exhibition will present a truly original body of work, seen through the eyes of one of today’s leading painters.”
Royal Adacemy of Arts website