Sunday, 14 November 2010

Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof: Artis Aquarium


Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof
(1866 – 1924)

Dutch painter, decorative artist, designer.



Gerrit Dijsselhof was one of the most important artists in the Duth Arts and Crafts period and is considered the founder of the Nieuwe Kunst (New Art) in the Netherlands.

Sea Anemones

He was trained in the Academy of Figurative Art in the Haque 1882-1884 and later attended the Amsterdam Arts and Crafts school 1884-1886. He was educated to become an all round artist in painting, batik, textiles and furniture design, glasswork and book illustrations.

Dijsselhof started his career as a painter of landscapes but in particular of fishes and sea creatures in the Amsterdam Artis Zoo aquarium. Making his sketches in pencil and watercolor in the corridors only dimly lit by the filtered lights from the aquariums he must have met Jan Voerman Jr. and Adriaan van’t Hoff, artist appearing in the two preceding postings . They also found inspiration in the Zoo Aquarium and the mysterious underwater world displayed there. Artis Zoo Aquarium opened in 1882 (see recent previous postings).




All his life Dijsselhof stayed dedicated transforming his aquarium sketches into these wonderful dreamy oil paintings. I have found some 40 examples in museum and auction cataloques. Their has never been a book or exposition on his work. I show you 10 of my most favorite here.

These timeless and dreamy painting have always been very in demand. The way he was able to imitate the silent world with soft light in this impressionistic style makes him quite unique among contemporary artist and fellow painters


Later Dijsselhof developed into a Dutch equivalent of Scottish Charles Rennie MacKintosh ( 1868 – 1928). Without the professional architectural background, but designing furniture, lamps and even complete interiors.
His work is represented in many Dutch museums and in the Hague a complete room designed by him saved, restored and rebuild in 1935 in the local communal museum.



This posting concludes three postings on 3 contemporary artists that were inspired by the Artis Zoo Aquarium and played all three an important role in Dutch art (Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Arts and Crafts) Nieuwe Kunst) in the first quarter of the twentieth century.

1 comment:

  1. These are beautiful and unusual paintings. Thanks, Gerrie.

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