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  • Theo van Rysselberghe
    Nov 23, 1862 - Dec 14, 1926
  • Beach at Low Tide, Ambleteuse, Evening - Théo van Rysselberghe was a Belgian neo-impressionist painter, who played a pivotal role in the European art scene at the turn of the century. Rysselberghe shifted from the pointillist brushwork he had employed to a more integrated style of color application. Portraits are what Rysselberghe is most known for whereas many of the Post-Impressionists favored landscapes. He used electric color combinations side by side in broad strokes to pulsating effect.
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Beach at Low Tide, Ambleteuse, Evening
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  • Beach at Low Tide, Ambleteuse, Evening

  • Theo van Rysselberghe
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  • 1900
    Oil on canvas
    Portland Art Museum - Oregon, United States.

    Having developed a realistic style early in his career, painter, sculptor and designer Théo van Rysselberghe was one of a number of Belgian artists who, upon viewing George Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte at the eighth Impressionist exhibition in Paris in 1886, converted to Neo-Impressionism. Reactive against what they viewed as superficial and arbitrary color choices and subject matter of the Impressionists, Neo-Impressionists applied principles of complementary color theory and color division in a technique known as pointillism.

    Beach at Low Tide, Ambleteuse, Evening bears the distinct honor of being the first pointillist work acquired by the Portland Art Museum. Formed entirely of thick daubs of paint dotted directly onto the canvas, Rysselberghe’s simple composition consists of the beach at Ambleteuse leading out to the sea under a sun-setting sky. While at first the color scheme seems at odds with a naturalistic portrayal of nature, upon further inspection, a certain logic is revealed. The setting sun, perhaps the most dramatic element of the painting, streaks through the sky, formed by dazzling yellow dabs. As yellow speckles combine with lavender and blue, clouds backlit with the setting sun are created. Purple hues intermingle with bright green and blue to form a calm sea at dusk, while darker blue and green tones compose an earthy beach laced with yellow rivulets at low tide reflecting the setting sun. Here, Rysselberghe has used the science of optics to create the mood of a peaceful twilight.

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Prev Beach at Ambleteuse, Evening Beach at Low Tide: Evening Next
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Other paintings by Theo van Rysselberghe:

Olive Trees near Nice
Olive Trees near Nice
Eucalyptus, at Saint-Tropez
Eucalyptus, at Saint-Tropez
Vase of Flowers 1911
Vase of Flowers 1911
Yellow Roses, Persimmons and Mimosas
Yellow Roses, Persimmons and Mimosas
Theo van RysselbergheThéodore van Rysselberghe, the Belgian painter known as Théo, was born in Ghent in 1862. He studied art at the Academies in Ghent and Brussels, and in 1881 exhibited for the first time at the Salon in Brussels. After the success of the French Impressionists exhibition in Brussels in the early 1880s, van Rysselberghe began to explore their technique. In 1883 he became a co-founder of the avant-garde group of Brussels intellectuals, Les-Vingt.

In 1886 the painter travelled with the poet Emile Verhaeren to Paris, where he met Georges Seurat (1859-1891) whose painting he admired, particularly A Sunday Afternoon at the Island of Grande Jatte. Following his contact with Neo-Impressionists like Seurat, Signac, Cross and Pissarro in Paris, van Rysselberghe turned to Pointillism himself, becoming the main exponent of the style in Belgium and one of Belgium's most important artists of the fin-de-siecle period. In the late 1880s and early 1890s, the painter travelled in Spain, North Africa, the Middle East and Europe. In 1898, he moved from Brussels to Paris where he joined the literary Symbolist group.

After the death of Georges Seurat, van Rysselberghe gradually abandoned the Pointillist technique and turned to a more Realist style. He was famous for his portraits of poets and other literary figures and created an oeuvre of etchings and lithographs. He also designed some beautiful various posters for bookshops and art galleries. Van Rysselberghe and his wife, who was fondly known as Madame Théo, are said to have played an important role in the life of André Gide. Between 1905-1910, he settled in Saint Clair in Provence, where he primarily executed portraits of his wife as well as of his daughter Elisabeth.

Van Rysselberghe died on the 13th December 1926 in St. Clair.