Fernand Khnopff

Art on This Day


A Belgian symbolist painter, Fernand Khnopff was born on this day, 12 September, in 1858.


After dropout a law school in Brussels, Khnopff enrolled at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts where he was influenced by Xavier Mellery to consider painting as an enquiry into the meaning hidden in the “soul of things”. Regarded as a cult figure during his lifetime, he received the Order of Leopold in recognition of his services to painting. A selection of 21 of his works presented on the first exhibition of the Vienna Secession in 1898 would form a major influence on the oeuvre of Gustav Klimt.


From this Symbolist poetry Khnopff took certain themes: silence, solitude, secretiveness and deserted towns, which are notably found in his paintings. Additionally, his art often portrayed a recurring theme found in symbolist art: the dualistic vision of woman as either “femme fatale” or “angelic woman”.