Masters by the sea

Copy of DSC_9288 © Visit Oostende

Is it the air? The light? The ceaseless swishing of the waves? Artists have always been attracted to the sea. Ensor lived his entire life in Ostend. Paul Delvaux and Constant Permeke, who began their painting careers elsewhere, ended up stranded in the vicinity of the Flemish coast - and never left again.

With this Master Tour, you follow in their footsteps. From museums to the homes of the artists to picturesque churches, your connecting thread is the blue sea. 

Discover these Flemish Masters in situ


Paul Delvaux’s oeuvre is a world full of mystery. In the museum, you can admire his masterpiece La Gare Forestiere, in which two girls look out at a train station in the middle of a dark forest.

La gare forestière van Paul Delvaux

Permeke Museum

Constant Permeke lived and worked at this place from 1929 until his death in 1952. The modernist artist provided the sketches for the design of this country house, which he christened De Vier Winden (The Four Winds). You can admire some of the gems from his oeuvre, including Boerin ( Farmer’s Wife), Over Permeke and De Sjees (The Chaise). 


Atelier Luc Peire (Knokke)

This atelier is a unique stop on your Master Tour. Here, you discover the dynamic spatial effect and the concentrated use of light that characterise the artist's oeuvre. The highlight of your visit is Environnement I (Environment I), a work that illustrates the artist’s infinite spatial verticalism.

Atelier Luc Peire (header)

Church of Our Lady, Nieuwpoort

This church is the home of an extraordinary masterpiece: The Judgement of Cambyses. The successful baroque painter Vigor Boucquet, from nearby Veurne, painted the work in 1671. From a giant staircase you can admire the painting from a different angle every time. Finally, you stand face to face with King Cambyses.

Het Oordeel van Cambyses door Vigor Boucquet

Saint Walburga’s Church

You can also admire his work in Veurne, where Vigor Boucquet lived and painted. In St Walburga’s Church, you can view the painting “They Cleaned Their Souls in the Blood of Christ”.  

This summer, the Landhuis in Veurne is hosting a retrospective exhibition of Vigor Boucquet. This exhibition brings together a large number of his works for the first time. Not to be missed!

Who says sea says James Ensor

2024 will be an Ensor year like no other. Because it is then exactly 75 years since the death of the Flemish innovator, game changer, source of inspiration and grandmaster. The celebration starts in December 2023 in his hometown of Ostend, with a festival showing the true face of “the man behind the masks”.

Find the full programme at

James Ensor lived and worked in Ostend. After his death, in 1949, the untouched residence became a museum, the James Ensor House. In the brand-new experience centre, you get a real sense of the artist’s world. You can poke around inside and rummage through his letters and photos. You also have the feeling that the painter could step into the room at any moment.

James Ensor’s house is a stop on the walk named after the painter. Thanks to the interactive app, you and the artist can stroll together past his favourite spots in Ostend.

This tour takes you past an impressive work of art: a street art triumph on the art route The Crystal Ship. The multi-artist SozyOne was inspired by that creative jack-of-all-trades James Ensor.

The endpoint of the James Ensor walk is his final resting place: the picturesque Church of Our Lady of the Dunes, also known as “the Ensor Church”. The church is protected as a village view, along with the surroundings and the nearby fisherman’s cottage that dates from 1822. 

The Intrige, 1890, collection KMSKA, photo: Hugo Maertens, public domain

Hidden Flemish Masters put on the map