Théo van Rysselberghe (Gent, 1862 – Saint-Clair, Côte d’Azur, 1926) is educated at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. Théo van Rysselberghe takes up residence in the city in 1881, and in 1883 he is one of the founders of the prominent Les Vingts/Les XX group. This is also the start of Théo van Rysselberghe’s ‘Moroccan period’: between 1882 and 1888, Théo van Rysselberghe makes three trips to Morocco and southern Spain, painting airy, realistic scenes in the royal city of Meknès, as well as Tangier and Seville.
Around 1887, influenced by Seurat and Signac, Théo van Rysselberghe begins experimenting with pointillism, a technique that breaks light down into tiny dots of colour. Théo van Rysselberghe’s pointillistic period is to last until around 1900, when he gradually begins working with lengthier lines and brushstrokes.
Théo van Rysselberghe travelled so much in his lifetime that one can hardly identify a place to call his home, but Théo van Rysselberghe was based at various times in Brussels, Paris, and Saint-Clair on the Mediterranean, where he came to settle definitively in 1916 in an art-deco apartment designed by his brother Octave (1855-1929). Théo van Rysselberghe painted in many genres, including landscapes, marines and still lifes, but the bulk of his work consists of stunning portraits of family members and friends (such as Signac and Emile Verhaeren).
Théo van Rysselberghe painted a light bluish vase of pink, red, yellow, and orange roses against a blue background. The colours of the roses are reflected in a glossy tabletop; a mirror image of the blue vase can be clearly seen. No part of the painting is smooth; even the background consists of subtle, distinct individual blue brushstrokes. Likewise, the vase is painted in dabs of colour and the tabletop beneath is a fine-grained plateau of dots and short lines. For Théo van Rysselberghe, the goal was not to create a precise reflection of reality, but rather a harmonious symphony of colour within which the reality can still be discerned.