KHNOPFF, Fernand
(b. 1858, Termonde, d. 1921, Bruxelles)

Portrait of Marguerite Khnopff

Oil on canvas mounted on wood, 96 x 75 cm
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

Sexual, even perverse, undertones appear in some of Khnopff's favourite themes, as in the portrait of 1887 of his sister Marguerite Khnopff, which he eventually installed in an altar-like setting in his studio and kept until his death. She appears in a tight, plain, high-necked, long-sleeved, floor-length dress, enclosed in a sparse, carefully balanced rectilinear setting that previews the interior of the house he would build for himself nearly two decades later. The powerful image of a woman held in check, almost in bondage, by her clothes and her environment had a special meaning for Khnopff, and he used it often.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.