Saturday, 5 March 2011

Jan Wittenberg (I)

Jan Hendrik Willem Wittenberg (I)
Dutch painter and graphic artist

1) Examples of his graphic work and some paintings in oil of animals.

The reason for presenting Jan Wittenberg was the finding this lovely calf print of a few weeks ago. It must have been (mis)taken for a calender picture because nobody was interested. It isn’t. It is one of the loveliest color lithographs he ever made. The signature and titel in pencil was hidden under an old paper matting.

To start with I'll share examples of his print work and some examples of his animal oil paintings. Later will follow his flower still life paintings. I have no pretentions of completeness whatsoever. Just showing you (all) the pictures I know of.


I wasn’t predestined for Jan Wittenberg becoming an artist. Let alone such a good one. A bit mystical artist also. Not much of his work ever appearing on the market although he is represented in most Dutch museums. Of course. He is good. And a very delicate kind of art he made.

(oil) (woodblock)

His painting are rarely seen but his graphical work was very fashionable from the twenties until the mid XXth century. Some of them like the Dachshund, the and the Cockatoo are icons of Dutch printed art.

His father put him up with a clerks job but he knew to escape from this life and began a professional career as an artist. He took lessons from renowned Dutch painter Floris Arntzenius (1864-1926) and became even an arts teacher in Rotterdam. Later devoting himself entirely to his painting and printing.

Stylish he is often compared to famous painter and graphics colleague Jan Mankes (1889-1920), whom he knew and whoms graphical work I shall present later.

His paintings are rare, his work never seen together although he was awarded an exhibition in 2004.

Marabou in Artis ZOO (oil)
Next Jan Wittenberg`s flower paintings in oil.


  1. I like these though it's hard to work out what kind of prints they are from what you say.

    They are meticulous like some of the British animal printmakers of the 20s and 30s.

  2. I've copied the methods/materials from the galleries and auction houses where I borrowed the pictures from. The rabbits and little goat also lithographs. And yes he was one of the great artists of the period in the Netherlands.

  3. though that stork is quite dear, you've touched on something that baffles me about myself--i just always like prints better than paintings. sure, there are a few artiusts of whom i like both, but far more that i ADORE their prints, and can't stand their paintings!

    love that little crow, and the pelican

  4. It's because the stork looks like a print so much I think. But I,m still going to bother you with his (flower) paintings in a short while.

  5. lotusgreen,
    I feel exactly the same about prints and paintings/watercolors. My explanation is that in the case of a woodcut or a lithograph, the artist is forced to make a decision about what is essential about a landscape, animal etc. and then simplify accordingly. I guess it is this level of abstraction that attracts me in prints and that I miss in many paintings or watercolors.


  6. Thank you Klaus for your keen diagnosis of our shared affection. But cannot it be also the limitation of the medium that attracts and seeks these extraordinaire artists for their gift of decision making. However I'm still going to bother you with Wittenbergs paintings.