Monday, 20 February 2012

Jan Boon, printmaker

Jan Boon 

Dutch painter, portraitist, book illustrator, etcher and printmaker. 

One of my favorite art books is "Themes and Variations, five centuries of master copies and interpretations" by K. E. Maison, edited by Thames and Hudson, London in 1960. It's a huge monument of a book in red cloth and although half a century old still unexcelled. If you ever stumble upon it donot hesitate: it's one of those must have books. Or try your local second hand bookshop or

And one of my favorite paintings is "Winter" (also named "Return from the hunt"), by Jan Brueghel the elder (1568-1625). I believe it to be the perfect winter painting. 
I think, after Jan Boon experimented with format, design and the distribution of black and white in similar prints, this great woodblock print "Winter in Traunkirchen" (Ger.) should have been included in K.E. Maison's book. This theme, snowy roofs, was also inspirational to many printmaking artists from Finland to Japan. Fascinated by the  artistic possibilities of the black and white rythm and geometry of snowy roofs. 

Belgian painter Valerius Saedeleer (1867-1941) painted much of his fantastic wintery work in the very best of Breughels tradition:

I'll show you and compare a good many of them in next posting. But first here's another great example of printmaking by Jan Boon. It's also one of my favorite prints of Amsterdam. Showing a famous spot hardly changed in centuries: the 17th century junction of the Keizers"canal" and the Reguliers"canal". Boon had been taught by Jacobus Gerardus Veldheer (1866-1954) one of the leading and internationally renowned Dutch wood engraving printmakers. 

Postcard around 1905
This historic location leading to this painting by George Hendrik Breitner (1857-1923), important Dutch impressionist painter and early photographer of daily city life.
The book "Themes and Variations" in mind I'm quite certain, in a glimpse, I've met this lady with the characteristic veil, hat and fur lined shawl in Amsterdam before.
G.H. Breitner:  Singel-bridge crossing, Palace street.

It could be Breitners' model Geesje who sat for his kimono paintings or it could also be Marie Jordan (1866-1948) who also posed for him and whom he married in 1901. Besides his many Amsterdam paintings and photographs Breitner is most famous for his paintings of women dressed in Kimono as well as Marie in various intimate paintings in her most natural costume.

A thank you to Eddy Habben-Jansen for borrowing his pictures. Visiting his Website dedicated to the life and works of Jan Boon is recommended.


  1. I like the Boon engravings very much. They are all new to me and I would like one (or two).

  2. given your most recent posts, all i can think, looking at that last image, is 'isn't she cold??!!"

  3. Haji, Boon's prints aren't often on the market. Not the signed ones. Mostly prints stolen from 1930 Art Magazines like the Studio. A familiar phenomenon. He is seriously collectable and collected locally and one of the more known and loved Dutch printmakers. And Lily, you're right she looks a bit out of season but she doesn't seem to be suffering too much. Thanks both !

  4. Im a little confused. Its states jan boon 1882 till 1975. Could his correct birth year be given :o) thankyou

    1. Maybe this will help deconfuse, see: