The King Baudouin Foundation’s Heritage Fund has recently acquired a major work by the Belgian painter Léon Spilliaert in a sale at Sotheby’s, Paris. The painting will be entrusted to the Fine Arts Museum of Ghent.
Léon Spilliaert (1881-1946) is one of the most important symbolist painters. La buveuse d’absinthe (The Absinthe Drinker) is a somewhat introspective work dating from 1907, which can be stylistically grouped with Spilliaert’s series of self-portraits. Spilliaert worked mainly in Indian ink, pastel and gouache to achieve this atmosphere of disturbing strangeness, mixed with mystery, solitude and hallucination. Among his work of this period, La buveuse d’absinthe is one of the rare occasions that he depicts a female subject frontally.
The King Baudouin Foundation’s Heritage Fund acquires works of art and historical documents that are then promoted and made available to everyone. Thanks to the support of numerous patrons, the Fund has been able, over the years, to assemble a rich collection that is shared between more than 25 public institutions spread across the country. La buveuse d’absinthe, purchased for 483,000 euros, a record price for a work by Spilliaert, now joins other works owned by the Foundation, such as the Portrait de Marguerite by Fernand Khnopff and Charles au jersey rayé by Henri Evenepoel.