In the 18th cent. French rococo taste predominated in Flanders, but in the 19th cent. a flourishing Belgian school of romantic painters arose (see romanticism). They included Gustave Wappers, Hendrik Leys, and the genre painter Henri de Braekeleer (1840–88). Two other noted Belgians, Alfred Stevens and Henri Evenepoel, worked chiefly in Paris.
A number of figures stand out as exemplars of modern Belgian art. Foremost is James Ensor, an individualistic painter of grotesque personal visions whose major works were created by 1900. Important artists of the 20th cent. include the founders of Belgian expressionism, Jakob Smits and Eugene Laermans; the sculptor and painter Rik Wouters and later expressionist painters Frits van den Berghe and Constant Permeke; the internationally recognized exponents of surrealism Paul Delvaux and René Margritte; and the later painters of the abstract school Anne Bonnet and Louis van Lint. Victor Horta and Henri van de Velde are the major 20th-century Belgians architects.
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