The most striking element of Ensor’s painting Carnaval en Flandre is the long, happy line of people dressed for carnival. They are making music, dancing and appear to be enjoying a scene that is taking place in front of them: two cats attacking a ragged-looking bird. The paint is thinly applied predominantly in soft pastel colours with bright contrasts in green, red and blue. The image is a section from the background of Ensor’s famous work Intocht van Christus te Brussel (Christ’s Entry into Brussels)*, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles from 1889.
Removed from its original context, the work assumes a new significance that most likely resides in the crowd’s cruel enjoyment of the fighting animals, a scene that does not feature in the original painting. Considered in retrospect, Ensor may be seen as a precursor of the expressionists. His work contains plenty of grotesque images depicting the malicious and ridiculous nature of human beings.