Fernand Khnopff Belgian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 829

Khnopff was a key member of the international artistic vanguard that arose outside of France in the 1880s and 1890s—a group whose achievements have long been underrepresented in American museums. Khnopff’s sister and favorite model, Marguerite, may have posed for this scene in the family’s summer home in the Belgian countryside. Disregarding convention, the artist chose a boldly angled, cropped viewpoint that emphasizes the hydrangea (hortensia, in French) over the woman reading in the background. The informality and spontaneity of the picture resonate with The Met’s collection of French contemporaries, notably Edgar Degas, but the delicate colors and the air of reverie are characteristic of the dreamy sensibility that made Khnopff a guiding force of the mystical Symbolist movement in Belgium and Germany.

Hortensia, Fernand Khnopff (Belgian, Grembergen 1858–1921 Brussels), Oil on canvas

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