Maurice Van Essche was born in Antwerp, Belgium. His family moved to Brussels when he was 5 years old. In 1924 he studied art at the Brussels Academy under James Esnor. In 1925 he interrupted his studies to earn a living in a stained glass studio which had some influence on the development of his painting style. During 1930 he joined the group “La Jeune Peinture Belge” and won a silver medal at the International Exhibition, Antwerp.
After getting married in 1933 he studied under Matisse in the south of France. He also held group and solo exhibitions in Paris and several Belgian states. In 1939 he underwent a government sponsored painting expedition to Belgian Congo. A year later he was exiled by the German occupation of Belgium and subsequently moved to South Africa, where he temporarily stayed in Cape Town. This was when he started exhibiting in South Africa. From 1943 – 1945 he lectured at Wits Tech Art School and in 1946 he founded Continental School of Art in Cape Town.
He was a foundation member of the International Art Club, where he and fellow members exhibited in Turin, he was later elected chairman. In 1951 Van Essche was awarded the title of Chevalier de Leopold II by King Badouin of Belgium. From 1952 – 1970 he was involved as a lecturer and later a professor at Michaelis School of Fine Art. In 1971 he departed for Europe and settled in France. 1972 Maurice Van Essche was awarded the title Officer of Order of Leopold II, by King Badouin of Belgium.
- 1924 Maurice Van Essche studied art at the Brussels Academy under James Ensor.
- 1933 Studied art under Matisse, S of Paris, France.
- Maurice Van Essche's family moved to Brussels when he was five years old; was educated there.
- 1925 Interrupted his studies to earn a living working in stained glass studio which had some influence on the development of his painting style.
- 1930 Maurice Van Essche became a member of the group 'La Jeune Peinture Belge'; won silver medal at the International Exhibition, Antwerp.
- 1933 Married Lucie Josz; studied under Matisse in South of France; group and one-man exhibitions in Paris and Belgian centers.
- 1939 Government sponsored painting expedition to Belgian Congo.
- 1940 Maurice Van Essche was exiled by German occupation of Belgium, moved to South Africa; stayed temporarily in Cape Town; began exhibiting in South Africa.
- 1943 to 1945 Maurice Van Essche lectured at Wits Tech Art School, member of New Group.
- 1946 Founded Continental School of Art, Cape Town.
- 1948 Foundation member of International Art Club; exhibited with fellow members in Turin, later elected chairman.
- 1951 Maurice Van Essche awarded the title of Chevalier de Leopold II by King Badouin of Belgium.
- 1952 Appointed lecturer in Fine Art, Michaelis School, Cape Town; reputation in South Africa grown considerably; continued to exhibit at intervals in Europe; regularly represented South Africa on in international art exhibitions 1948 - 65.
- 1962 Maurice Van Essche appointed Professor of Fine Art, Michaelis School, UCT.
- 1966 Awarded Medal of Honour for Painting by South African Akademie.
- 1967 Subject of monograph 'Van Essche', by Carl Buchner.
- 1970 Maurice Van Essche retired from Michaelis School.
- 1971 Departed for Europe; settled in France.
- 1972 Maurice Van Essche awarded the title Officer of Order of Leopold II by King Badouin of Belgium.
- 1974 Unable to attend Prestige Retrospective Exhibition of his work, South African National Art Gallery and Pretoria Art Museum; had several heart attacks but continued to paint whenever possible.
- 1927 First one-man exhibition, Brussels.
- 1930 and 1935 La Jeune Peinture Belge, Brussels and Paris.
- 1937 Ghent Salon.
- 1939 One-man art exhibitions, Elizabethville, Leopoldville.
- 1941 First South African one-man art exhibition, Cape Town.
- 1948 Overseas Exhibition of South African Art, Tate Gallery.
- 1948 to 1952 Exhibitions of International Art Club, South Africa.
- 1950 Venice Bienalle.
- 1952 Van Riebeeck Tercent Exhibition, Cape Town; Venice Bienalle.
- 1953 Rhodes Centenary Exhibition, Bulawayo.
- 1954 Venice Bienalle.
- 1956 First Quad of South African Art.
- 1957 Sao Paulo Bienalle.
- 1960 Second Quad of South African Art.
- 1961 Sao Paulo Bienalle.
- 1963 Sao Paulo Bienalle.
- 1965 Sao Paulo Bienalle.
- 1966 Republic Fest Exhibition, Pretoria.
- 1969 Group Exhibition, 'Le Petit Palais', Geneva.
- 1971 Republic Fest Exhibition.
- 1974/5 Prestige Retrospective Exhibition, South African National Art Gallery and Pretoria Art Museum.
Public Art Collections
South African National Art Gallery; Johannesburg Art Gallery; Pretoria Art museum; Durban Art Gallery; William Humphreys Art Gallery; AC White Gallery, Bloemfontein; Hester Rupert Museum; Rembrandt Foundation; King George VI Gallery; University of Wits Art Gallery, UNISA.