James Sidney Edouard Ensor - (1860 - 1949) was a Belgian painter and printmaker, an important influence on expressionism and surrealism who lived in Ostend for almost his entire life. He was associated with the artistic group Les XX. Ensor was a poor student and he left school at the age of fifteen to begin his artistic training with two local painters. From 1877 to 1880, he studied at the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, where one of his fellow students was Fernand Khnopff. Ensor first exhibited his work in 1881. From 1880 until 1917, he had his studio in the attic of his parents house. James Ensor is considered to be an innovator in 19th century art. Although he stood apart from other artists of his time, he significantly influenced such 20th century artists as Paul Klee, Emil Nolde, George Grosz, Alfred Kubin, Wols, Felix Nussbaum, and other expressionist and surrealist painters of the 20th century. The yearly philanthropic Bal du Rat Mort (Dead Rat Ball) in Ostend continues a tradition begun by Ensor and his friends in 1898.