Belgian painter, born in Brussels. After training as a commercial lithographer-engraver, he studied painting at the Brussels Academy. His early works were naturalistic, in the tradition of late 19th-century French painting, but he developed a heavy, austere Expressionist style, which he displayed in peasant scenes, landscapes, still-lifes, and interiors. He was little appreciated in his lifetime, but he is now regarded as one of the leading Belgian painters of his time. He has been described by W. Vanbeselaere as ‘the dourest, most unyielding of expressionists’. Vanbeselaere went on to argue that it was only after his death that ‘the world discovered that the intentional sparseness of form, the coarse bread Brusselmans offers us has a rare and pure taste…His work is poor and monotonous in appearance only. It shines with life, jubilantly soaring up from its own limitations’ (W. Vanbeselaere, Moderne Vlaamse Schilderkunst, 1966, translated in the catalogue of the exhibition ‘Ensor to Permeke: Nine Flemish Painters, 1880–1950’, Royal Academy, London, 1971).
From A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art in Oxford Reference.