After a series of trips to North Africa and Spain, he exhibited in 1882 in Paris and Brussels. In 1890, La récolte de betteraves (Deinze Museum), is the hinge between the period tinged with social realism and the impressionist period to which he will remain attached until the end of his life. Little by little, the landscape takes on more importance in his work than the characters who animate it and the rendering of the atmosphere, the light, prevails over the anecdote.
He spends several winters in Paris where he befriends Henri Le Sidaner. He also frequented Zola and Mauclair. In France, he discovers and becomes enthusiastic about outdoor painting and the impressionism of Monet, Pissarro and Sisley. His career did not really begin until after his final move to Astène in 1888 where he established a meeting place for artists and writers that he called "Zonneschijn". His house became a real artistic centre, the "Mecca of Luminism".
His work is a true hymn to the light. Few artists have enjoyed a success comparable to his in their lifetime, a success that grew from the 1880s to 1919 when he returned from London where he settled during the war (he executed many views of the Thames there).