Wednesday, February 16, 2011

‘DE VROLIJKE WEISS'



Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch (1824-1903), whose Christian name was Hendrik Johannes, was born into a family of artists of which he and his cousin Jan (1822-1880) were the main representatives. In order to distinguish him from his cousin, who was almost the same age and painted with a plain technique and brilliant colours above all city landscapes.
Jan Hendrik was also known as "de vrolijke Weiss" (a play on words that means "the cheerful melody"). At the beginning of his career, Weissenbruch received drawing classes from Johannes Low for three years. Later on he was trained by scenery painter Bart van Hove (1790-1880) and attended night classes at the Academy of the Hague.
(Marjan. van Heteren at museothyssen.org)


Vismarkt te Den Haag
From en.wikipedia.org


Along the Canal
Oil on canvas
Private collection
From ARC at artrenewal.org


His father was an amateur painter and collected work by artists such as Andreas Schelfhout. Schelfhout's influence can be seen in Weissenbruch's early, vast landscapes, painted in precise detail. His magnificent, cloudy skies show his admiration for the seventeenth-century artist Jacob van Ruisdael, whose work he saw at an early age in the Mauritshuis in The Hague.
(rijksmuseum.nl)


View of Harlem
Oil on panel
The Hague, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
Source artanonymous photostream
From en.wikimedia.org


A Summer Landscape with Figures On A Path
Watercolor
Private collection
From ARC at artrenewal.org


Landscape with windmill near Schiedam
Oil on canvas
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
From en.wikimedia.org


Landscape with windmill near Schiedam
Source flickr.com
From en.wikimedia.org


An impressive portrayal of sky and light was one of Weissenbruch's strongest points. He painted in the open air and let himself be guided as far as possible by nature itself. “What I really want is to get nature itself on the canvas,' Weissenbruch once said.’Sometimes nature can make a real impact. If I can get that same impact later, I can draw and paint what I have seen. I make a sketch with a few charcoal scribbles. At home I conjure it up in paints.’
(rijksmuseum.nl)


A Cow Standing By the Waterside In A Polder
Watercolor
Private collection
From ARC at artrenewal.org


During this intermediate period, Weissenbruch went from being a characteristic painter of Dutch Romanticism to one of the best representatives of the Hague School. His lively dune landscapes led to a series of atmospheric impressions of the Dutch polders, in which the artist paid special attention to his representation of the cloudy skies and stretches of water. These beautiful oil and watercolour landscapes were painted, almost without exception, with free and delicate brushstrokes.
(Marjan. van Heteren at museothyssen.org)


A Bomschuit On The Beach
From artmight.com


During the 1860s Weissenbruch often worked in the country around Gouda, near Nieuwkoop and Noorden. His touch became freer and he concentrated more on the atmospheric impression of the moment, like other painters of the Hague School. It was not until 1880 that his landscapes gained wider recognition. As well as landscapes, Weissenbruch also painted several interiors, still life and beach and seascapes, in both oils and watercolour.
(rijksmuseum.nl)


Shipping Canal at Rijswij
From rijksmuseum.nl


A typically Dutch sky with grey-white clouds is the largest and most remarkable feature of this painting (above). Hendrik Weissenbruch was a true sky painter, just like the seventeenth-century landscape painter Jacob van Ruisdael. The artist had seen Ruisdael's work as a youngster at the Mauritshuis museum, in his home town of The Hague. Weissenbruch was especially concerned with the accurate portrayal of the (sun) light in the sky. As he himself said: 'Light and sky, that's art! I can never get enough light in my paintings, particularly in the sky. The sky in a painting, that's it. It's a key aspect! Sky and light are magical.'
This landscape depicts the countryside around The Hague, featuring certain specific aspects of the area: the shipping canal, with sailing boats, Laak mill and the tower of Binckhorst castle. On the opposite bank is the towpath. A towpath is a path along the bank of a canal or river along which boats - tow barges - would be pulled by horses. A young boy would often be employed to keep the horse moving. Tow barges were a frequent means of transport from the 1630s until the mid-19th century. Left, in the foreground, is a woman lifting one child and holding another's hand. They are painted rather sketchily, like part of the landscape. The painting appears to be a spontaneous snapshot of a piece of countryside on a blustery day in the summer. However, Weissenbruch painted the scene in his studio, using sketches he had made outdoors before.
(rijksmuseum.nl)


Forest View near Barbizon
From rijksmuseum.nl


The artists of the Hague School were influenced by the painters of the Barbizon School: painters who sought inspiration directly from nature. Weissenbruch found most of his subjects in the immediate vicinity of The Hague and seldom ventured far from home. Yet, at the age of 76 he decided to travel to Barbizon, at that time the Mecca of modern landscape art. During his stay in France, Weissenbruch painted 'Forest View near Barbizon' (above). The work shows the skill of the painter in capturing and depicting the fall of the light in nature.
An explosion of sunlight in a forest with a glade, color and patches of light playfully dance across the tree trunks and the rocks in the foreground. The foliage and the forest floor have been sketchily depicted using rough brushstrokes. The harmony of brown, green, beige and yellow (ochre) are only briefly interrupted by a seated figure dressed in black in the centre. This forest scene was painted in 1900. It was made in an area near Barbizon, France, in the forest of Fontainebleau. Weissenbruch has signed the painting in the lower left, also stating where and when it was painted.
Weissenbruch enjoyed working outdoors in the countryside. He usually found his subjects in the area around The Hague where he lived, rarely going far from home. The journey to Barbizon must have been a kind of pilgrimage for him, since it was in this area that French painters, in around 1830, had first begun to paint in the open air on a large scale. These 'painters of Barbizon' strove for a natural representation of the landscape, paying particular attention to the mood and the light. "What I really want is to get nature itself on the canvas," Weissenbruch once said. "Sometimes nature can make a real impact. If I can get that same impact later, I can draw and paint what I have seen. I make a sketch with a few charcoal scribbles. At home I conjure it up in paints."
The fall of the light in this forest view near Barbizon is sunny and warm in color. The landscapes Weissenbruch painted in the Netherlands are very different in tone. Though light is still the most important element, it has a different tone and atmosphere. It is the cool light typical of Holland, determined by the water, clouds and sky. There are other ways in which this forest scene is unusual in Weissenbruch's oeuvre. For example, Dutch landscapes generally display more traces of human intervention in nature (houses, mills or boats) and are far more precisely painted. The forest view, with its broad, bold brushstrokes, only shows nature with a single, lonely figure.
(rijksmuseum.nl)


Back garden at the Kazernestraat, The Hague
Oil on canvas
Collection Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza en
depósito en el Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
From museothyssen.org


A splendid spring day with the trees in bloom, behind the wall of an urban garden (above)... Is this not the motif that art experts tend to associate with the work of Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch?
Of the works that have survived, the most typical depict atmospheric landscapes of the polders, with their heavy mass of clouds weighing down on the sparkling surface of the water, painted with considerable virtuosity in terms of brushwork, whether it be in watercolours or oils. Although Weissenbruch always placed the emphasis on the landscape-as he himself used to say, in that closed accent typical of the Hague: " ….. Nature. nature is my master" -he also used the picturesque surroundings of his house-workshop at Kazernestraat 112 in the Hague as a source of inspiration. As the artist himself used to say, he liked to take long walks around the Hague and the city's surrounding areas: "When I saw some beautiful corner, a lovely beach, some beautiful canals or a suggestive sky, or when I sat on a dune in order to look at the sea, I became absorbed by the beauty of nature. Sometimes nature made an impression on me, and with this emotion I was able to draw and paint what I was seeing or had seen. I was able to depict it with a few brushstrokes."
The back garden which served as the theme for the above painting, was probably located between the Kazernestraat and the residential villas of Lange Voorhout. The artist painted the garden more than once. In the collection preserved at the Boijmans-Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, we find a vertical version of the left-hand corner of the garden during the first few months of the year. The version preserved at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and a watercolour owned by a private collection, show this garden during a dark autumn day. Back Garden at the Kazernestraat, The Hague, cannot only be distinguished from the other versions due to the weather conditions and the time of year, but also due to the absence of white clothing. Following the example of his 17th century predecessor, Jacob van Ruisdael, Weissenbruch used white clothing as a source of light, in the same way as he used elements such as façades, windmills, sails or water lilies in other works due to their intense whiteness. In the picture we are dealing with here, the white flowers serve as a source of light, although the white blouse of the woman with the parasol stands out, above all, from the dark background.
Weissenbruch's work is difficult to date, given that he tended to work on old projects. Only those paintings and watercolours produced by the artist in his early career are dated, along with those he produced in the years leading up to his death in 1903.
Weissenbruch taught Theophile de Bock (1851-1904), Victor Bauffe (1849-1921) and Jan Heppener (1826-1898).
(Marjan. van Heteren at museothyssen.org)


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