About this artwork

The earliest style of Emile Claus was a naturalistic Realism. Under the influence of his Paris contemporaries it soon evolved into Impressionism. Later he adopted Luminism. '‘De ijsvogels'’ ('‘The Kingfishers'’ literally '‘The Ice Birds'’ known in English as '‘The Skaters'’) records a crucial moment in this development. With this painting Claus concluded three years of study and created a key work for the history of Belgian Impressionism. He achieved this atmospheric treatment of the wintry light by combining a brilliant technique with a harmonious and luminous colour palette. What makes this painting so impressive is the use of a very clear range of light colours in which only the figures provide soft contrast. Colour and light are the dominant elements in the Luminism of Claus. The acquisition of '‘The Skaters'’ by the Ghent museum was an expression of public support for Claus'’s new style and the presence of this work in a public collection would also be decisive for the influence of Luminism on the young generation of painters.

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About the collection

The Museum of Fine Arts Ghent has a collection of about 9,000 works, from the Middle Ages to the first half of the 20th century. Over 600 works are shown in the museum’s permanent collection presentation. The spotlight is mainly on painting from the Southern Netherlands but print art, sculpture and European painting are also well represented. Moreover, the museum is a knowledge centre for the art of the 19th century, the fin de siècle and the early 20th century.

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