Saturday, 28 August 2010

Dirk Hidde Nijland

Dirk Hidde Nijland
Dutch painter, graphic artist and woodblockprinter

Usually finding a new print by an unknown maker means investigating. Into the identity and/or the backgrounds of the artist. Recognizing the maker this time wasn't very difficult. The style is not to be mistaken. I have no particular criteria for buying a print other then I have to like it and on a limited budget, the price has to be fittingly. This recent find appealed to me very much because of the subject: the river/seaside and its strong geometrical composition. And most importantly, a fitting price. This kind of art, and the appreciation of it has fallen very much out of grace and fashion.

Often pictures like this are cleared out of the (grand)parental house as something that is not recognised as art at all and is often mistaken for a reproduction or old calender picture.
Dirk's father made his fortune in collecting and dealing in art. So he never in his life had to worry much about money and could devote it entirely to art. He was trained from age 15, attending the National School for Figurative Art in Amsterdam and the Academy for Art en Technical Sciences in Rotterdam. At a young age becoming acquainted to and being friends with many influencial artists, painters, poets and writers of his time.

He also lived and studied in Brussels and Paris and very early in his career the incredibly wealthy industrial and art collector Anton Kröller and his wife Helène Kröller-Möller noticing his talent and bought his works. This famous art loving couple brought together the biggest Vincent van Gogh collection in the world thus leaving to the Nation a wonderful and world famous collection and the Kröller-Möller Museum of modern Art. More museums added his works into their collections during his life. He is also represented in many art collections in the Netherlands.

To observe and record daily life, harbour scenery and the riverside is what he liked and did best. The vaste delta of the river Rhine and Meuse meeting the Northsea with its busy ports, its long history of coastal defence and the struggle of men against the water is the recurring theme in much of his work. The opening picture (my new find) is a good example. Bought for only 10 bucks, it made me curious and wanting to find out more about Dirk Hidde Nijland.

In 1916 he was persuaded to try woodblock printing and only a year or two later he was published in Wendingen. This renowned art Magazine published by the Amsterdam society of archtitects ARCHITECTURA ET AMICITIA was to be devoted to architecture, construction and ornamentation. It was published, all by the same editor and designer from 1918 to 1925. The square lay out and wonderfully designed front covers now very sought-after by collectors and internationally famous for the Arts and Crafts, Art Deco, Jugendstil designs. In 1919 Dirk Hidde made his contributions for the special woodblock edition.

If you are interested have a look at:

His work shows that he was a keen observer with a love for the land and people in his home and familiar environment.

These pictures showing he knew very well how to create depth, atmosphere and life into compositions of everyday scenes along the river in black and white according to the contemporary teachings of composition, technics and rules yet developing a strong and very personal style.

"the sleeper", "fishing near the pilots building" .

Besides woodblock printing Dirk Nijland was also a good painter and sketcher/drawer who was capable of catching the very specific Dutch light and atmosphere.

"stormy river", "city along the river"

Around the time the "Zuyderzee" was closed of from the Norh sea by a 30 km long dam in 1932 after 5 years of pionering and revolutionary engenering Dirk Nijland recorded the vanishing life of the former coastal villages, landscapes and its people in many drawings and sketchbooks thus becoming also a historical and geograhpical recorder of a rapidly vansihing way of Dutch history and life. The dam (the "Afsluitdijk") being the second man build construction that can be seen from space. The other one is the Great Chinese Wall.
Dirk Hidde Nijland was rewarded exhibitions in 1950, in the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem; in 1968 in the Groningen Museum and in 1993 in the Drents Museum in Assen which holds also large part of his inheritance.


  1. His exhibition in the Frans Hals museum was in 1951.

  2. Thank for stopping by and for correcting the date.

  3. Presently the Collection Reurt Veendorp - a great collector and good friend of NIJLAND -is exhibited in the Groninger Museum at Groningen (Nov 2012-April 2013).

    Veendorp owns many etches of Nijland which are shown in the monography : De Collectie Veendorp- levenswerk van een zorgvuldig verzamelaar. ISBN /EAN 978-90-9027102-6.

    A visitor