After a few months of training at the Bruges Academy, Léon Spilliaert trains himself. From 1903 onwards, he frequented the Belgian symbolists. He is a friend of Émile Verhaeren. In 1904 he is in Paris, where he will return regularly. A solitary artist, sometimes ranked among the last symbolists but in reality unclassifiable. His canvases are characterized by an obvious melancholy, marked by sadness, through the representation of large empty spaces (beaches and maritime expanses), or self-portraits playing on the shadows in the crevices of the face, a treatment of light in a chiaroscuro manner and a kind of irradiation. Some of his works confine themselves to abstraction through geometric structures (diagonals and curves in concentric circles). His inspiration probably comes from the city where he was born, Ostend, and from nocturnal wanderings in the seaside town along the beaches and dikes. An atmosphere of nightmare and a certain tragedy sometimes emanate from his paintings, or at least a deep and vague feeling of wandering and perdition, of loneliness.