Léon Spilliaert (Ostend °1981 - Brussels °1946) was a mainly self-taught visual artist and a chief representative of Belgian symbolism. Plagued by bad health from a young age, the reclusive Spilliaert spent his childhood sketching ordinary life on the Belgian coast. His unique mixing of gouache, pastel, diluted ink and watercolor produced dark, melancholy seascapes and (self-)portraits. After his marriage in 1916, Spilliaert turned away from his tormented introspective works, focusing instead on joyful household scenes and landscapes. His works can be found in many Belgian and international museums, from Antwerp, Brussels and Ostend to Paris (Musée d'Orsay), New York (Metropolitan Museum of Art) and Detroit (Detroit Institute of Art).