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100 Francs 1999, Belgium

in Krause book Number: 147
Years of issue: 1999
Signatures: Le Tresorier: Françoise Masai, Le Gouverneur: Guy Quaden
Serie: 1995 Issue
Specimen of: 15.06.1995
Material: Unknown material
Size (mm): 139 х 76
Printer: Belgian Nationalbank, Brussels

* All pictures marked magnify are increased partially by magnifying glass, the remaining open in full size by clicking on the image.

** The word "Specimen" is present only on some of electronic pictures, in accordance with banknote images publication rules of appropriate banks.

100 Francs 1999




James Ensor and his signature.


100 Francs 1999

Baron Ensor

The engraving on banknote is made after this photo of James Ensor made approx. in 1890.

James Sidney Edouard, Baron Ensor (13 April 1860 – 19 November 1949) was a Belgian painter and printmaker, an important influence on expressionism and surrealism who lived in Ostend for almost his entire life. He was associated with the artistic group Les XX.

Ensor's father, James Frederic Ensor, born in Brussels of English parents, was a cultivated man who studied engineering in England and Germany. Ensor's mother, Maria Catherina Haegheman, was Belgian. Ensor himself lacked interest in academic study and left school at the age of fifteen to begin his artistic training with two local painters. From 1877 to 1880, he attended the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, where one of his fellow students was Fernand Khnopff. Ensor first exhibited his work in 1881. From 1880 until 1917, he had his studio in the attic of his parents' house. His travels were very few: three brief trips to France and two to the Netherlands in the 1880s, and a four-day trip to London in 1892.

During the late XIX century much of his work was rejected as scandalous, particularly his painting Christ's Entry Into Brussels in 1889 (1888–89). The Belgium art critic Octave Maus famously summed up the response from contemporaneous art critics to Ensor's innovative (and often scathingly political) work: "Ensor is the leader of a clan. Ensor is the limelight. Ensor sums up and concentrates certain principles which are considered to be anarchistic. In short, Ensor is a dangerous person who has great changes. . . . He is consequently marked for blows. It is at him that all the harquebuses are aimed. It is on his head that are dumped the most aromatic containers of the so-called serious critics." Some of Ensor's contemporaneous work reveals his precocious response to this criticism. For example, the 1887 etching "Le Pisseur" depicts the artist urinating on a grafitied wall declaring (in the voice of an art critic) "Ensor est un fou" or "Ensor is a Madman."

But his paintings continued to be exhibited, and he gradually won acceptance and acclaim. In 1895 his painting The Lamp Boy (1880) was acquired by the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels, and he had his first solo exhibition in Brussels. By 1920 he was the subject of major exhibitions; in 1929 he was named a Baron by King Albert, and was the subject of the Belgian composer Flor Alpaerts's James Ensor Suite; and in 1933 he was awarded the band of the Légion d'honneur. Even in the first decade of the 20th century, however, his production of new works was diminishing, and he increasingly concentrated on music, although he had no musical training, he was a gifted improviser on the harmonium, and spent much time performing for visitors. Against the advice of friends, he remained in Ostend during World War II despite the risk of bombardment. In his old age he was an honored figure among Belgians, and his daily walk made him a familiar sight in Ostend. He died there after a short illness, on 19 November 1949.

Dood en de Maskers

centered and on right side of center are the elements from the painting by James Ensor "Masks and Death" ("Dood en de Maskers"), 1897. Also feathery big-nosed mask and the Fan.

The talented loner Ensor remembered his eccentric, expressive images (skulls, skeletons, self-portraits, suffering Christ), most of which originated in his childhood memories of goods in the souvenir shop of his parents. The best works were created between 1885 and 1891 (later he tried to repeat himself).

A belated recognition. Influenced the formation of expressionism; Enfora is called the forerunner of surrealism and modern fantasy art.

Denomination in numerals is in top right corner, in words - in top left corner.


100 Francs 1999

Baden van Oostende

James Ensor. Drawning "The Baths of Ostend" ("De Baden van Oostende", "Les bains à Ostende"), 1890. Size: 37,4 cm. x 45,4 cm.

On banknote is the etching "Bathing in Ostend", from a Japanese newspaper, 1899.

The painting The Baths at Ostend is characteristic of a group of paintings that Ensor made between 1889 and 1893-1894 on small panels. In these works Ensor painted in a very graphic way, while his drawings on paper from the same period also resemble small paintings. The Baths at Ostend also has the character of a painted drawing, developed in the casual and improvisational approach that was uniquely his. The work has a special artistic value, including the effect of the preparation layer that Ensor allows to play a role within his representation of the popular pastimes of fashionable bathers. It is a sparkling, satirical and striking sketch of fin de siècle madness in the most important Belgian coastal town, circa 1900. To the left are the beach cabins that were drawn down to the water by horses, after which the generally distinguished men and women could enter the water and through the eyes of Ensor immediately loose all dignity as bathers. The mass spectacle is watched carefully by an audience from all walks of life, who are to be found on the beach and also on the cabins. Some spectators even have binoculars with them in order to better ascertain the details. A photographer has positioned himself on top of one cabin, possibly a reference by Ensor to the contemporary photographs and postcards that captured the Ostend seaside visitors. The painting is considered one of the most popular works in the artists oeuvre. In 1899, Ensor made an etching of The Baths at Ostend, also in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent, which remarkably shows no mirroring of the image. The work was included in the List of Masterpieces protected in law by the Flemish Community, in an attempt to prevent important works leaving the country. It was acquired in 2011 by the Flemish Community and is on loan to the MSK. (

Bathing machine

On left side of Ensor's drawning is the bathing machine.

The bathing machine was a device, popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, to allow people to change out of their usual clothes, change into swimwear, and wade in the ocean at beaches. Bathing machines were roofed and walled wooden carts rolled into the sea. Some had solid wooden walls while others had canvas walls over a wooden frame.

The bathing machine was part of etiquette for sea-bathing more rigorously enforced upon women than men but to be observed by both sexes among those who wished to be proper.

Especially in Britain, men and women were usually segregated, so nobody of the opposite sex might catch sight of them in their bathing suits, which (although extremely modest by modern standards) were not considered proper clothing in which to be seen.

Denomination in numerals is in lower right corner, in words - in top left corner.


Obverse and reverse designer: K. Ponsaers.

Obverse and reverse engraver: Benoît Gregoire.