His well-to-do family came from Germany and lived in Antwerp. From the age of 16, Schmalzigaug travelled extensively. In 1905–1906 he made a tour of Italy, where he was especially impressed and influenced by Venice.
Returning to Antwerp, he became a secretary to the art society of Kunst van Heden/L'Art Contemporain, and worked on the organisation of international exhibitions. Between 1910 and 1912 he lived mainly in Paris. There he had the opportunity to see the exhibition of Italian futurists in 1912, and, impressed, soon decided to move to Italy.
His time in Italy between 1912 and 1914 was the happiest and most active part of his life and art. In 1914 he took part in the international exhibition of futurists in Rome. His style developed towards the abstract.
In 1914, he returned to Antwerp. He was declared unfit for military service on health grounds; after the start of World War I, he moved to The Hague in neutral Netherlands.
He felt lonely in the isolated country; he longed for the sunny Venice and the whirring international life of artists.
The British art historian Michael Palmer has written that Schmalzigaug has not received great acknowledgement in his life neither in Belgium, nor internationally, but in spite of this he belonged to the most original and most talented modern Belgian artists of his time.
- Phil Mertens, "Jules Schmalzigaug, 1882-1917", Antwerpen en Brussel, 1984
- Michael Palmer, "Van Ensor tot Magritte, Belgische kunst 1880 - 1940", Brussel en Tielt, 2002
- Jules Schmalzigaug, un futuriste belge (exhibition organised by the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium)
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