Eccentric painter James Ensor the tradition of le bal du rat mort (The Cult of the Defunct Animal) from Paris. Returning to Ostend, he started a series of parties for friends garbed in grostesque masks and costumes, and within a few years these became so popular that the municipality formed La Compagnie du Rat Mort to promote the bal as a civic event and incidentally pay Ensor the sort of tribute he enjoyed.
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