Maurice van EsscheCollection

Maurice van Essche was a Belgian-born South African artist who lived and worked in Cape Town from 1940 until 1962. He was born in Antwerp in 1906 and studied at the Brussels Academy of Fine Art under James Ensor, a famous expressionist and symbolist painter. He also had a brief encounter with Henri Matisse in France, who influenced his use of colour and line. In 1939, he won a scholarship to paint in the Belgian Congo, where he was fascinated by the landscape and the people. He moved to South Africa with his family during World War II and became a prominent member of the New Group, a collective of modernist artists. He also taught at the Michaelis School of Fine Art and influenced many young artists. His paintings depict still lifes, fishermen, harlequins, and figures in Cape and Congolese settings, with a distinctive style that combines rich colour with deft line work. He retired in 1962 and moved to France, where he died in 1977. Maurice van Essche is regarded as one of the most important South African artists of the 20th century.