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Les XX

Poster of the 1889 Les XX exhibition

Les XX was a group of twenty Paul Gauguin (1889, 1891), Paul Cézanne (1890), and Vincent van Gogh (1890, 1891).

Les XX was in some ways a successor to the group L'Essor. The rejection of Ensor's The Oyster Eater in 1883 by L'Essor Salon, following the earlier rejection by the Antwerp Salon, was one of the events that led to the formation of Les XX.

In 1893, the society of Les XX was transformed into "La Libre Esthétique".


  • History 1
  • Eleven founding members 2
  • Nine invited members 3
  • Twelve later invited members 4
  • The ten Annual Exhibitions of Les XX, 1884–1893 5
    • 1884 5.1
    • 1885 5.2
    • 1886 5.3
    • 1887 5.4
    • 1888 5.5
    • 1889 5.6
    • 1890 5.7
    • 1891 5.8
    • 1892 5.9
    • 1893 5.10
  • Notes 6
  • Further reading 7
    • Primary sources 7.1
    • Secondary sources 7.2
  • External links 8


Les XX was founded on 28 October 1883 in Brussels and held annual shows there between 1884 and 1893, usually in January–March. The group was founded by 11 artists who were unhappy with the conservative policies of both the official academic Salon and the internal bureaucracy of

  • Biografisch Lexicon: Plastisch Kunst in België

External links

  • Autour de 1900: L'Art Belge (1884–1918). London: The Arts Council, 1965.
  • Block, Jane, Les XX and Belgian Avant-Gardism 1868–1894, Studies in Fine Arts: The Avant garde, Ann Arbor: UMI Research press, 1984.
  • Herbert, Robert. Georges Seurat, 1859–1891, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1991. ISBN 9780870996184.
  • Les XX, Bruxelles. Catalogue des dix expositions annuelles, Brussels: Centre international pour l'étude de XIXe siècle, 1981.
  • Stevens, Mary Anne and Hoozee, Robert (eds.), Impressionism to Symbolism: The Belgian Avant-Garde 1880–1900, exhib. cat. London: Royal Academy of Arts, London 7 July – 2 October 1994.

Secondary sources

  • Octave Maus: L'Espagne des artistes (Brussels, 1887).
  • Octave Maus: Souvenirs d'un Wagnériste: Le Théâtre de Bayreuth (Brussels, 1888).
  • Octave Maus: Les Préludes: Impressions d'adolescence (Brussels, 1921).
  • Madeleine Octave Maus: Trente années de l'lutte pour l'art, Librairie L'Oiseau bleau, Bruxelles 1926; reprinted by Éditions Lebeer Hossmann, Bruxelles 1980

Primary sources

Further reading

  1. ^ a b c Block, Jane. "XX, Les". Grove Art Online,   (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c d e Schwartz, Manuela (2006). Vincent d'Indy et son temps. Mardaga. p. 391.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Stockhem, Michel (1990). Eugène Ysaÿe et la musique de chambre (in French). Mardaga. p. 270.  
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Walther, Ingo F.; Suckle, Robert; Wundram, Manfred (2002). Masterpieces of Western Art 1. Taschen. p. 760.  
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Clement, Russell T.; Houzé, Annick (1999). Neo-impressionist painters. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 396.  
  6. ^ a b c d e State, Paul F. (2004). Historical dictionary of Brussels. Scarecrow Press. p. 409.  
  7. ^ a b Ploegaerts, Léon; Puttemans, Pierre (1987). L'œuvre architecturale de Henry van de Velde (in French). Presses Université Laval. p. 462.  
  8. ^ a b Gaze, Delia (1997). Dictionary of women artists, Volume 1. Taylor & Francis. p. 1512.  
  9. ^ James, Kathleen (2006). Bauhaus culture: from Weimar to the Cold War. University of Minnesota Press. p. 246.  
  10. ^ a b c Frijhoff, Willem; Spies (2004). Dutch Culture in a European Perspective 3. Marijke. Van Gorcum. p. 598.  
  11. ^ a b c Feltkamp, Ronald (2003). Théo van Rysselberghe, 1862-1926: monographie et catalogue raisonné. Lannoo. p. 535.  
  12. ^ Giedion, Sigfried (2007). Raum, Zeit, Architektur: Die Entstehung einer neuen Tradition (in German). Springer. p. 536.  
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Legrand, Francine-Claire (1999). James Ensor (in French). Renaissance Du Livre. p. 144.  
  14. ^ a b Clement, Russell T. (1996). Four French symbolists. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 583.  
  15. ^ a b c d Langham Smith, Richard; Potter, Caroline (2006). French music since Berlioz. Ashgate Publishing. p. 363.  
  16. ^ Baron, Wendy (2006). Sickert: paintings and drawings. Yale University Press. p. 586.  
  17. ^ a b c d e Turner, Jane (2000). The Grove dictionary of art. Oxford University Press US. p. 434.  
  18. ^ "History of the Red Vineyard". 
  19. ^ Thomson, Andrew (1996). Vincent D'Indy and his world. Oxford University Press. p. 234.  
  20. ^ Howard, Jeremy (1996). Art nouveau: international and national styles in Europe. Manchester University Press. p. 240.  
  21. ^ Weisberg, Gabriël P.; Dixon, Laurinda S.; Lemke, Antje Bultmann (1987). The Documented image: visions in art history. Syracuse University Press. p. 375.  
  22. ^ a b c Tschudi-Madsen, Stephan (2002). The art nouveau style. Courier Dover. p. 488.  
  23. ^ a b Lekeu, Guillaume (1993). Verdebout, Luc, ed. Correspondance. Mardaga. p. 496.  


The first concert was centered on work by César Franck and the first performance of Ernest Chausson's Poème de l'amour et la mer The second concert contained works by d'Indy, Castillon, Fauré, Chabrier and Bréville.[3] The third and final concert featured the première of Guillaume Lekeu's Violin Sonata,[15] with also performances of compositions by Charles Smulders, Paul Gilson, Dorsan van Reysschoot and Alexis de Castillon.[23]

Paul Verlaine discussed the contemporary poetry.[13]

More design was exhibited, including a table by Alfred William Finch, embroidery by Henry Van de Velde, and objects by Alexandre Charpentier.[22]


Three concert evenings were organised. The first concert presented the first version of Paul Gilson's La Mer, Guillaume Lekeu's Andromède and music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Alexander Glazunov, and Franz Servais.[23] The second showcased music by Alexis de Castillon, César Franck, Charles Bordes, Louis de Serres and Emmanuel Chabrier.[3] The final concert included the first performance of Vincent d'Indy's Suite in D and Ernest Chausson's Concert.[15] The other music played was composed by Gabriel Fauré, Charles Bordes, Camille Chevillard and Albéric Magnard.[3]

[22] Retrospective of

Pottery exhibited by Auguste Delaherche, and embroidery designs by Henry Van de Velde.[22] Invited artists include Maximilien Luce,[5] Léo Gausson[17] and Mary Cassatt.[13]


Memorial concert for César Franck and a second concert with new work by Vincent d'Indy,[2] and work by other followers of Franck, including Bordes, Duparc, Bréville, Chausson, Tiersot, Vidal,and Camille Benoît. Also played was work by Fauré and Emmanuel Chabrier.[3] A third concert focused on Russian composers, with works by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Alexander Borodin, Nikolai Shcherbachov, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Kopylov.[3]

[21] First exhibitions of decorative art, including posters and book illustrations by

[17].Jules Chéret and [13],Alfred Sisley [5],Camille Pissarro [4] Exhibitions of


Stéphane Mallarmé gave a lecture on Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam; Edmond Picard discusses Maurice Maeterlinck, Emile Verhaeren and Charles Van Lerberghe.[13]

Three concerts were given, with the first centered on Belgian composers like Auguste Dupont, Léon Soubre, Joseph Jacob, Paul Gilson and Gustave Huberti.[3] The second and third concert focused on the French composers, with works by Fauré, Franck, d'Indy, and Castillon in the second concert. Vincent d'Indy performed his Symphonie Cévenole in the third concert.[19] Other composers whose work was performed were Fauré, Franck, Bréville, Bordes, Chausson, Albéric Magnard and Paul Vidal.[3]

Exhibits by invited artists including Odilon Redon,[14] Paul Cézanne,[2] Paul Signac, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec,[7] Alfred Sisley, Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh.[13] Durint the 1890 expo was sold the only painting Vincent van Gogh sold during his lifetime.[18]


In July, Les XX had an exhibition in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.[11]

At the first concert, the music was composed by César Franck, Pierre de Bréville, Ernest Chausson, Gabriel Fauré and Julien Tiersot. The music was played in part by the Quatuor Ysaÿe, as happened in the next few years.[3] The second concert was centered on Gabriel Fauré, with additional music by d'Indy, Charles Bordes and Henri Duparc.[3]

[10].Vision After the Sermon Included is Gauguin's masterpiece [4]


Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam was one of the invited writers.[13]

First performance of Vincent d'Indy's Poème des Montagnes.[15]

Exhibits of Albert Dubois-Pillet,[17] Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri-Edmond Cross, James Abbott McNeill Whistler,[2] Paul Signac and Odilon Redon.[4]


In July, Les XX had an exhibition in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.[11]

[5].A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte The major work shown is Seurat's [4]


First performance of César Franck's Violon Sonata.[15]

Exhibits of Pierre-Auguste Renoir,[4] Odilon Redon[14] and Claude Monet, including Le pont d'Argenteuil and La Manneporte à Étretat.[13]


Exhibition of Xavier Mellery[6] and Jan Toorop.[10]


Catulle Mendès discussed Richard Wagner.[13]

Apart from the members of Les XX, there were exhibitions by Auguste Rodin, James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Max Liebermann.[12]

The first of ten annual exhibitions was held on 2 February at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.[6]

La Manneporte à Étretat, Claude Monet


The 1884, 1885 and 1886 exhibitions were held at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. The later exhibitions were all held at the Museum of Modern Art of Brussels.[11]

The ten Annual Exhibitions of Les XX, 1884–1893

Twelve later invited members

Nine invited members

Eleven founding members

Together with Maus, the influential jurist Edmond Picard and the Belgian poet Emile Verhaeren provided the driving force behind an associated periodical, L'Art Moderne, which was started in 1881. This publication aggressively defended Les XX from attacks by critics and members of the visiting public. Picard polemically fomented tensions both with the artistic establishment and within Les XX. By 1887, six of the more conservative original members had left, sometimes under pressure from Picard and Maus, to be replaced by artists who were more sympathetic to the cause. Altogether, Les XX had 32 members during the ten years of its existence.[1]

There was a close tie between art, music and literature among the Les XX artists. During the exhibitions, there were literary lectures and discussions, and performances of new classical music, which from 1888 were organised by Vincent d'Indy,[2] with from 1889 until the end in 1893 very frequent performances by the Quatuor Ysaÿe.[3] Concerts included recently composed music by Claude Debussy, Ernest Chausson and Gabriel Fauré. Leading exponents of the Symbolist movement who gave lectures include Stéphane Mallarmé, Théodore de Wyzewa and Paul Verlaine.[1]


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