Paul Delvaux

(1887 - 1994)


Paul Delvaux (1897–1994) was a Belgian painter famous for his surrealist works that often depicted dreamlike scenes with a strong sense of mystery and eroticism. Here’s a comprehensive overview of his life and work:

Early Life

  • Birth and Family: Born on September 23, 1897, in Antheit, Belgium, Delvaux was raised in a bourgeois family. His father was a lawyer, and his mother was interested in music and painting.
  • Education: Delvaux initially studied architecture at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels but soon shifted his focus to painting.
  • Influences: He was influenced by the works of James Ensor and Giorgio de Chirico, as well as the expressionist movement.

Artistic Development

  • Early Works: His early works were grounded in expressionism and realism, focusing on landscapes and portraits.
  • Surrealist Turn: In the 1930s, Delvaux’s style underwent a radical transformation after he was introduced to the works of René Magritte and the surrealists. His paintings started to feature dreamlike, mysterious scenes with classical architecture, trains, and nude figures.
  • Themes and Motifs: Delvaux is known for recurring themes in his work, including classical architecture, trains, and female nudes. His paintings often portrayed women in a detached, almost dreamlike state, creating an enigmatic aura.

Career Highlights

  • Exhibitions and Recognition: Delvaux gained international recognition with exhibitions in Europe and the United States. He was awarded numerous prizes and honors throughout his career.
  • Teaching: He also taught at the École nationale supérieure des arts visuels de La Cambre in Brussels.

Personal Life

  • Private Nature: Delvaux was known to be a private person. He married Anne-Marie de Martelaere in 1935, and they had a close relationship throughout their lives.
  • Interests: Aside from painting, Delvaux had a deep interest in music and literature, which influenced his work.

Legacy and Influence

  • Enduring Legacy: Delvaux’s work continues to be celebrated for its unique blend of surrealism, mystery, and eroticism. His paintings have influenced numerous artists and filmmakers.
  • Collections: His works are held in major museums and collections around the world, including the Paul Delvaux Museum in Saint-Idesbald, Belgium, which is dedicated to his life and work.


  • Later Years and Death: Paul Delvaux lived a long and productive life, continuing to paint into his nineties. He passed away on July 20, 1994, in Veurne, Belgium.

Delvaux’s work remains a significant part of the surrealist movement, and he is celebrated for his ability to blend reality with dream, creating enigmatic and timeless scenes that continue to captivate viewers worldwide.

Anne-French Fine Arts
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