Les XX


Para-Impressionism: Other exhibitions

Les XX

Independant group exhibitions in Brussels




Les XX were also called les Vingt (the twenty) and ‘cercle / groupe / association des XX’ (circle / group / association of the 20) (iR26). Les XX was founded 1883/10/28 by Octave Maus (1856-1919) and a group of founding artists. Shortly after they invited other artists and formed a groupe of 20 artists or Vingtistes↓. These artists were opposed to the clichés of official art, (sometimes) refused by the official juries and formed a groupe of avant-garde artists (R5,p214;R56,p110;R68,p100;R88II,p209;iR3). Other artists later joined this groupe of Vingtistas, like Redon, Signac and also Jan Toorop and Henry van de Velde (iR3). Les XX had no president or governing committee. Instead Octave Maus (a lawyer, art-critic and journalist) acted as the secretary. Théo van Rysselberghe had a large influence on Les XX and recruited artists (R68,p41+102). Les XX were recognized by the State as a semi-institutional structure being aloud to exhibit in musea (R68,p102). The partaking artists used various styles like Impressionism, Symbolism and Divisionism (R68,p104).

The exhibitions were held yearly from 1884-93 and held in February and March. Every year also foreign artists were invited, in 1888 16 and in 1889 17 (so not 20 every year as some sources claim (iR3;R3,p421). Among these invited artists there were also partakers of the ‘impressionist’ expositions. Denvir states that all Impressionists exhibited at these Salons except Caillebotte, but Caillebotte was part of the 1888 exhibition. (R5,p214;iR19;R102,p283). As far as I know Degas didn’t exhibit with Les XX (though he was invited in 1886+88+89 (R1,p554;R47;R26,p13), nor Rouart (R92), nor Boudin.

There were 32 till 40 participants. In 1884 they showed an average of 2,8 and in 1885 4,5 art-works. We see later on, that partakers exhibited more works, like Monet 10 paintings in 1886 and James Ensor 22 works in 1888. So in general there were more partakers than at the ‘impressionist’ expositions from 1874-86, but they showed much less works per person and probably a bit less art-works were shown per exhibition.

During the exhibitions there were also lectures and concerts held (R3,p421). In 1893 of les XX was abolished because of differences of opinion among them. The same year Octave Maux founded ‘la Libre Esthétique’ (R5,p214;R68,p41;R3,p421).


Who were the founding members? Which members continued to exhibit with Les XX? Which artists later became member?
Sources give various answers (R88II,p209;R68,40;iR3). The founding group existed at least of Frantz Charlet*, Paul Du Bois (Dubois)*, James Ensor*, Alfred William (Willy A.)  Finch* (1854-1930), Charles Goethals, Fernand Khnopff* (1858-1921), Darío de Regoyos*, Théo Van Rysselberghe* (1862-1926), Guillaume (-S) Van Strydonck* (1861-1937). Some include Rodolphe Wytsman (or Witsman; 1860-1927) (iR3); others Willy(-Herman) Schlobach* (1864-1951) (iR3;R68); others Guillaume Vogels* (1836-96) and Périclès Pantazis (R68;R88); others also Jean Delvin, Frans (Franz) Simons, Gustave (Guillaume) Vanaise and Theodoor Verstraete (R88).
7 of the founding members later stopped being a Vingtiste: Goethals (not in 1887 + 88 + 89 + 91) and Wytsman (only affirmed in 1885), Pantazis (probably stopped in 1885), Delvin, Simons, Vanaise and Verstraete (probably in 1887). Other artists were invited to become a member, namely Achille Chainaye, Jef Lambeaux, Piet Verhaert. At last there were 20 members or Vingtistes. All these invited members stopped being a Vingtistes, some probably in 1885: Lambeaux, Verhaert; others probably in 1889: Chainaye. So, only 10 members stayed a Vingtiste from 1884-1893 (above indicated with an *). Note: Walther also mentions Isidore Verheyden (1846-1905) as one of the co-founders, but this is not affirmed by other sources (R3,p420).

Other artists later became a Vingtistes. Some (probably) 1885 onwards: Guillaume Charlier, Jan Toorop (1858-1928) (R298,p229). Others probably 1887 onwards: Félicien Rops. Others probably 1888 or 1889 onwards: Auguste Rodin. In 1888 the following artists also were members: Mlle A. Boch, Henry De Groux (see catalogue). Others probably 1890 onwards: George Minne (R298,p134;iR3). Others probably 1891 onwards: Robert Picard, Paul Signac. (iR3;iR1;R88II,p210/1;R116I,p202+213+225;iR19/R236).

Some sources claim Anna Boch was a member from 1885-93 (iR3), but in 1885 she was not in the catalogue (iR1); it is affirmed that she was a Vingtistes in 1887 + 88 + 89 + 91 (R116I,p202+213+225;iR19/R236;iR3;R3,p420). Some sources mention that Isidore Verheyden was member from 1884-88 (iR1), but he was absent in the 1884 catalogue (iR1), it is affirmed that he was a Vingtistes in 1887 (R116I,p202), but not in 1888 +89 + 91 (iR19/R236;R116I,p213+225;iR3). Some sources claim that Georges Lemmen (1865-1916) was a member starting 1888 (iR3), but this is not affirmed by the catalogue (iR19/R236); it is confirmed he was a member in 1889 + 91 (R116I,p213+225;R3,p421). Some sources claim that Henry van de Velde (1863-1957) was a member starting 1888 (iR3), but this is not affirmed by the catalogue (iR19/R236); it is affirmed that he was a member in 1889 + 91. Henry De Groux (Henri Degroux) at least was a member from 1887-89, but not in 1891. Some claim Odilon Redon later became a member (iR3), but this is not confirmed by other sources (R116I,p202+213+225;iR19/236).

The sources are inconsistent on where the exhibitions of Les XX were held in Brussels. Some sources state that the exhibitions of 1884+85+86 were held in the Palais des Beaux-Arts (R88II,p209;iR3), which opened in 1880 (iR3). This is affirmed by the catalogues of 1884+85 (iR1). Another source (wrongly) mentions these exhibitions were held in the Musée ancien des Beaux-Arts (R68,p102) and another source that it was held in 1887 in the Ancien Musée royal de peinture (R116I,p202). Some sources state that the other exhibitions (1887-93) were held at La Musée Moderne (R88II,p209;R68,p102;iR3;R306,p139). But another source calls it differently: in 1889 Ancien Musée de peinture and in 1891
Musée de Peinture (R116I,p213+225).


1884/02/02 – ? (=1XX-1884):
1st exhibition in the Palais des Beaux-Arts with 40 participants showing 113 works.
None of the ‘impressionist’ partakers were present.
Invited partakers were: from Belgium: Artan, Heymans, Rops; from France: Henri Gervex; from Holland: Josef Israëls, Jacob Maris and Anton Mauve; from Germany: Max Liebermann; from England: Stott; from the USA: William Chase, John S. Sargent and James Neill Whistler; and sculptors: August Injalbert, Rodin, Roty. (iR1;R88II,p209;iR3😉 Théo van Rysselberghe showed 2 pictures, but was absent during the exhibition (R68,p28).

1885 (=2XX-1885):
2nd exhibition, with 37 participants showing 168.
The following ‘impressionist’ partakers were present: Félix Bracquemond (showing 6 works), Jean-François Raffaëlli (5 works).
Other participants were: Jean-Charles Cazin, Henri Fatin-Latour and Jan Toorop. Théo van Rysselberghe showed 5 pictures, including 3 of Marocco.

1886/02/06 – 03/? (=3XX-1886):
3rd exhibition.
The following ‘impressionist’ partakers were present: Monet (10x), Redon (8 drawings and a serie of lithographs), Renoir (8x), Zandomeneghi (4x). Degas refused to participate. Denvir writes that the about 8 works each of Monet, Redon and Renoir were send in by Durand-Ruel (R5,p148). The works of Monet and Renoir caused a sensation (R68,p59).
Other participants were: from France: Ferdinand Gauillard, Henri Guérard, Besnard, Monticelli; from Holland: Breitner, Isaac Israëls, Jan Toorop (20x!); from Norway: Krogh, Kölsto; from the USA: Chase, Whistler (Portrait de Pablo de Sarasate).

1887/02/05 – 03/05 (=4XX-1887):
Quatrième Exposition annuelle des XX or Exposition Internationale de peinture, de sculpture, de gravure et de dessin, organisé par Les XX in the Ancien Musée royal de peinture. With 18 Vingtistes and 19 artistes invités (R116I,p202).
The following ‘impressionist’ partakers were present: Lebourg (5x), Morisot (5x), Pissarro (3 works, including CCP827+828), Jean-François Raffaëlli (2 pastels and 8 dessins rehaussés), Seurat (La Grande Jatte↓ + 6 seascapes). Some sources mention that Cézanne also participated (R48,p13), but his name was not an the poster (R116I,p202). Rewald writes that Pissarro and Seurat were laughed at, but that they also made a deep impression on the many young artists (R1,p547).
Other participants were: Marie Cazin (5x), Ary Renan, Rodin, ; and from Holland: Matthijs and Willem Maris, Jan Toorop; from England: Walter Sickert; from Norway: F. Thaulow.

1888/02/05 – ? (=5XX-1888):
Ve exposition des XX. With 16-3?=13? ‘Vingtistes’ and 16-1=15 ‘artistes invités’. The 28 partakers of who entries were noted in the catalogue probably showed 196 art-works.
The following ‘impressionist’ partakers were present: Caillebotte (8x), Forain (0x; aR4), Guillaumin (4x), Signac (12x). Forain was invited and mentioned in the catalogue, but only a letter (of excuse) was in the catalogue. Degas declined an invitation (R1,p554).
Other participants were, Para-Impressionists like: Jacques-Émile Blanche (1x?), Mlle Jeanne (Eva) Gonzalès (6x), James Whistler (8x); Neo-Impressionists like: Henry Cros (sic; 3x), Dubois-Pillet (13x); Post-Impressionists like: Anquetin (8x), Toulouse Lautrec (11x). James Ensor showed 15 oils and 7 drawings. Achille Chainaye, F. Charlet and Théo van Rysselberghe are mentioned as partaking ‘Vingtistes’, but there were no works noted in the catalogue. (R236/iR19;R39,p325+645;R102,p283;R181II,p609;R106,p419;R306,p139;R68,p33).

1889/02/02 – 03/05 (=6XX-1889):
1889/02/02 – 03/05: Sixième exposition annuelle des XX in the Ancien Musée de peinture. With 18 ‘Vingtistes’ and 17 ‘artistes invités’ (R116I,p213).
The following ‘impressionist’ partakers were present: Félix Bracquemond, Desboutin, Gauguin (12x), Monet (4x?), Pissarro (6 paintings and several etchings), Seurat (12x, including 6 seascapes of Port-en-Bessin). As far as I know CaillebotteCézanne and Redon didn’t participate as some sources indicate (iR3;R5,p168;R1,p554). But Cézanne wrote 1889/11/27 to Maus a note of thanks for the invitation (for next year) (R1,p588+554/6). There names anyway were not on the poster (iR3;R116I,p213). Degas declined an invitation (R1,p554).
Other participants were Para-Impressionists like: Besnard;  Neo-Impressionists Cross, Luce; Post-Impressionists like: . Angrand is also mentioned as participant, but his name was not on the poster (iR3;R116I,p213). Other participants were: Van de Velde, Jan Toorop. Théo van Rysselberghe exhibited 6 notes form a journey (R68,p35). The works of Gauguin were the principal attraction (R88II,p210).

1890/01/17 – 03/? (=7XX-1890):
VIIe exposition annuelle des XX.
The following ‘impressionist’ partakers were present: Cézanne (3x, including Maison du pendu), Lucien Pissarro, Redon (iR3), Renoir (5x), Signac, Sisley (6 works). Renoir first rejected to participate, later sends in 5 works, but doesn’t visit the exhibition (R31,p304). Some claim Gauguin also exhibited (iR3), but this is not confirmed by other sources (R181;R49). Probably the works of Sisley were send in by Georges Petit, but this wasn’t done as promised (R53,p141).
Other participants were Neo-Impressionists like Hayet and Post-Impressionists like: Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent van Gogh (6x). Van Gogh caused a scandal, Henry de Groux withdraw his works (R88II,p211).

1891/02/08 – 03/08 (=8XX-1891):
Huitième Exposition annuelle des XX in the Musée de Peinture (R116I,p225).
The poster mentions 20 Vingtistes, including Signac and 18 Invités (R116I,p225).
The following ‘impressionist’ partakers were present: Gauguin (a wooden sculptures), Guillaumin, Camille Pissarro (2 works + 3 fans hc), Seurat, Signac, Sisley (5 works send by Durand-Ruel) (R116I,p225+363;R166,p274;R106,p419;R124,p565;R49,p92;R5,p180;iR3). Guillaumin hardly was noticed (R3;aR3;R179,p47). According to Budde Gauguin exhibited a wood relief called ‘Soyez amoureuses et vous serez heureuses’ which caust a scandal (R179,p47). Other sources add that he also exhibited 3 vases (iR3).
Other participants were: Charles Angrand (R116I,p225); Jean Baffier; Jules chéret; Filliger; from Belgium: Eugène Smits, Charles Vander Stappen; from Holland: Maurice Bauer, Floris Versier; from England: Walter Crane, P. Wilson Steer; from Sweden: Carl Larsson. (Journal des Artistes 1891/01/25, p19; iR40). Some sources mention that Cézanne and Lucien Pissarro also exhibited (R5,p180), but their names were not on the poster (R116I,p225) and not mentioned in the Journal des Artistes. The wooden sculptures of Gauguin were disqualified as pornographic (R88II,p211).
There also was a posthumous retrospective with paintings and drawings by Vincent van Gogh (iR3;R5,p180).

1892/02/? (=9XX-1892):
1892, February: 9e Exposition des XX.
The following ‘impressionist’ partakers were present: Cassatt, Lucien Pissarro, Signac (R106,p419;R5,p184;iR3;R312,p64). Some claim Camille Pissarro also exhibited (R5,p184;R88II,p211), this is not confirmed by other sources (R116I,p363). There also was a retrospective with 18 paintings of Seurat (iR3).
Other participants were Neo-Impressionists like: Luce; and Post-Impressionists like: Denis, Toulouse-Lautrec. And from England: Wilson Steer, Ford Madox-Brown (a Pre-Raphaellite); and from Holland: Thorn-Prikker (a Symbolist) (R5,p184;iR3;R306,p139).

1893/02/? (=10XX-1893):
10e Exposition des XX. This was the last exposition of Les XX. In 1894 there was a restart in La Libre Estétique.
The following ‘impressionist’ partakers were present: Signac (R106,p419). Other participants were Neo-Impressionists like Petitjean (R56,p163).


In the Salon database I could find the catalogues of the first exhibition in 1884 (iR1) and the second in 1885 (iR1). On archive.org I could find the catalogue of the 5th exhibition in 1888 (iR19/R236). I couldn’t find other catalogues, anyway not on gallica (iR40). Some sources render posters of 1887 + 89 + 91 (R116I,p202;iR3). Other sources on the participation of artists are: Wildenstein on the participation of Monet in 1886 + 89 (1996=R22IV,p1016/7), Raeburn on the participation of Renoir in 1886 + 90 (1985=R31,p315), Alexandrian + Jooren on the participation of Seurat in 1887 + 89 (1980=R40,p93 + 2014=R207), Dony / Braun on the participation of Cézanne in 1887 + 90 (1976=R48,p13), Berhaut on the participation of Caillebotte in 1888 (1994=R102,p283), Cachin on the participation of Signac in 1888 + 90 + 91 + 92 + 93 (R106,p419), Pissarro & Durand-Ruel on the participation of Camille Pissarro in 1887 + 89 + 91 (2005=R116I,p361-370), Serret on the participation of Guillaumin in 1891 (1971=R124,p565), Stevens on the participation of Sisley in 1890 + 91 (1992=R166,p274), Crussard on the participation of Gauguin in 1889 (2002=R181), Huyghe on the participation of Gauguin in 1889 + 91 (1989=R49,p92), Ferretti Bocquillon on the participation of Luce in 1888+89+92 (2010=R306,p139).
Other sources are: Monneret (R88II,p209-211); Rewald (1973=R1), Karin Sagner in Walther (2013=R3,p419-430), Denvir (1993=R5,p214); Wardwell Lee (1988=R56). On the internet: BNF (iR26), Wikipedia (iR3; iR5). For other general references (=R) see. For other references to internet sites (=iR) see.

1884:  (iR1/Salon database / Salon des XX)
1885 (iR1/Salon database / Salon des XX)
1888 (iR19/R236 =archive.org/ia600700).


For further reading:
Bloch, Jane: Les XX and Belgian avant-gardism, 1868-1894. University of Michigan, 1981. (iR19;iR24)

Goddard, Stephen H. (ed.): Les XX and the Belgian avant-garde: prints, drawings, and books, ca. 1890. Catalog of an exhibition at the Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Ghent, Belgium, Oct. 31-Dec. 12, 1992. Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kanses, 1992 (iR19)

Les XX et la Libre Esthétique, cent ans après, [exposition, Bruxelles, Musées royaux des beaux-arts de Belgique, 26 novembre 1993 – 27 février 1994]. Bruxelles, 1993 (iR24)

Octave Maus, Madeleine: Trente années de lutte pour l’art 1884-1914, [les XX, 1884-1893, La libre esthétique, 1894-1914]. Bruxelles : librairie l’Oiseau bleu , 1926. (iR24)

Dumont, Françoise: (Gauguin) les XX et la Libre Esthétique, exposition organisée à Liège, salle Saint-Georges du 21 octobre 1994 au 15 janvier 1995. Liège, Musée des Beaux-Arts, 1994. (iR24)



Recommanded citation: “Meta-Impressionism / other exhibitions: Les XX, independant group exhibitions in Brussels, 1884-1893. Last modified 2023/05/22. https://www.impressionism.nl/les-xx/

Note: additional info and pictures will follow.