Traditionally the history of art groups artists and their work into styles, schools, movements and trends. These categories are a useful frame of reference, but they can give the mistaken impression that visual art develops in a straight line everywhere at the same time. Isms such as impressionism, neo-impressionism and fauvism are also applicable to Belgian art, but the study of light and the discovery of colour did not follow the same course here in Belgium as they did in France and, because of a combination of specific cultural and social factors, led to an art that had a character of its own. The authors of this book, both experts on Belgian art from the nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth, illustrate this by means of masterpieces from the Dexia Collection.

Johan De Smet is Curator of Painting at the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent.
Herwig Todts is Curator of the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerp.