From 1887 onwards, masks gradually became the unmistakable trademark of James Ensor. He even called himself ‘the painter of masks’ in a number of signed works. The Intrigue presents a group of bizarre, fantastic and menacing maskers at a festively staged moment of a fictitious drama. The abrupt transitions and sharp contrasts of the colour areas enhance the alienating effect of the scene. Here, the mask is no longer a ritual carnival prop. In Ensor’s fantastic universe, the mask does not stand for hypocrisy. His masquerades are much more personal, and his masks metamorphose into irrational characters. The disfigured faces come to life and reveal the true nature of the characters. Bright colouring, hard contrast, expressive brushstroke and theatrical staging make The Intrigue into a representative example of Ensor’s original and personal style.