Émile Claus was a pupil of Jacques Jacobs at the academy of fine arts in Antwerp. He travelled in Spain and visited Morocco and, after a stay in Antwerp from 1880 to 1883, finally settled in Asten on the banks of the Leie in 1888, although he also rented a studio in Paris from 1889 to 1891 and was forced into exile in London during World War I. He was elected a member of the Belgian Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts.
Although Claus did not systematically apply paint in small discrete touches of colour, he was clearly influenced by Impressionism, in that he painted out of doors and in his use and juxtaposition of pure and unusual colours. He often painted landscapes of moors and marshes in the winter light, and at the end of his life, during his enforced exile in London, he painted views of the Thames in the style of Monet and Derain.