Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Jacob Mooij, Dutch printmaker in Harderwijk

Jacob Mooij
Dutch woodblock printmaker, publisher and
 printing press owner.

I first stumbled over this forgotten and hardly known Dutch printmaker when I saw (but missed) this large print of a Utrecht alley in a local auction site. Only recently I found another one, a picturesque scene in one of the oldest (esth. 1648 and today former) University cities of the Netherlands, the fishing port of Harderwijk. Before the Zuiderzee was closed by the Afsluitdijk in 1933.  In the 18th century Harderwijk was also nicknamed the Athens of Gelderland (province). Carl Lineaus, the Danish botanist studied here in 1735. It is also located on the edge of the Dutch Bible belt.

Usually the old Lighthouse and gate in one of the remaining towers and gate to the walled medieval city, is the subject of numerous works of art: it’s as iconic as the Martini tower in Groningen and the Waterpoort in Sneek. Right: the old Lighthouse by Cees Bolding (1897-1979) one of the finest Dutch painters and printmakers. 

Jacob Mooij was born as the son of the evangelist Arend Mooij who stayed and preached in several Dutch and Belgian cities, married a girl from province Zeeland and  did what the Bible ordered him to do: create a large family. Jacob started a publishing and printing  business in Harderwijk with his brother Herman Willem (1872-1932) while another brother, Maarten, also preached the gospel like his father and uncles before him.

Paradijspoortje ("Gate to paradise") in Harderwijk: wood/linoblock by Jacob Mooij, etching by Herman J. Ansingh (1880-1957) and woodblock by Arie van der Boon (1886-1961)
and an oil painting by David Schulman (1881-1966)

In Harderwijk he will have met Henri Wils (1892-1967) the  interned Belgian printmaker who’d fled, with tens of thousands of compatriots, the siege of Antwerp in 1914. From Wils, who was a student of Eduard Pellens (1872-1947) in Antwerp (Emile Verpilleux (1888-1964) also was) Jacob Mooij learned the art of woodblock printing. Jacob married Geertje Visser in 1915 and both men later (around 1922) moved to Rotterdam were Jacob started a printing press and Wils a career as a printmaker and books illustrator.

Harderwijk Old Lighthouse and Vispoort (Fish-gate): by Henri Wils, postcard, Herman (H.J.) Ansingh, Wijnand Otto Jan Nieuwenkamp (1884-1950) and Louis Haver (1906-1969)
The influence of Pellens (who had been a student of August Lepère (1849-1918) in Paris and one of the founding fathers of Modern printmaking) is unmistakenly evident in all Wils’ prints. Wils never excelled, never changed from the stiff city views and sticked to his style using just two or three blocks and creating recognizable, framable and affordable wall decorations. For a generation of Dutch city bourgois. 
Antwerpen by Henri Wils and his teacher professor Eduard Pellens.

Wils was a bread and butter printmaker and he had his prints printed mechanically at the printing press of his (former) employers, the publisher and printing press of Kok in nearby Kampen. Wils when living in Harderwijk will have without a doubt had knowledge of the printing and publishing activities of the Mooij brothers. Henri Wils and his legacy in print will feature in an upcoming posting (ending the Antwerp School of Printmaking postings)    

The influence of Wils is evident in Mooij who, I believe, eventually proved to be far more creative and artistic then his master using more color blocks and guiding a much freer hand cutting the linoleum. And of course he decided to pull his prints by hand. Hopefully more prints by Mooij will surface in future.

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only.
All pictures are mouse-clickable to embiggen.


  1. Hi Gerrie,
    I love the rabbit print. And I found it really interesting to see the same architecture from the viewpoint of various artists. Thank you.

    1. I'm glad you've enjoyed Karen. I could do a posting on rabbits on Dutch woodblock prints too. Maybe I will, there're plenty to choose from.