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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

The art of Simon Moulijn, 1866–1948

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Landscape, Drenthe (1896). Collection Hein Klaver.

Sander Bink’s previous guest posts here concerned some of the forgotten artists of the Dutch fin de siècle, in particular the Beardsley-inspired work of René Gockinga. This new post from Sander is more Symbolist-oriented, with a look at the work of another Dutch artist.

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Simon Moulijn was a Dutch painter and graphic artist whose work shows a striking affinity with European Symbolism, in particular his prints and paintings made in the 1890s which would appear to provide a link between Dutch Realism and mystical Symbolism. Beyond their historical context, these are simply beautiful pictures which is, of course, the most important thing.

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Cover design for Nachtsilene, 1902.

Landscapes were Moulijn’s main theme; some bring to mind the land- and cityscapes of Fernand Khnopff in which the world has become silent: a serene, quiet world, free from the noise and misery of modern life. “Anywhere out of this world”, but within the world we already know. Although not “Decadent” like Khnopff—there are no femmes fatales in his landscapes—Moulijn must certainly have been inspired by Khnopff and similar artists. Van Gogh and Jan Toorop were important for Moulijn as well. That Moulijn was well-versed in Symbolism and other new art forms at the time such as Art Nouveau is evidenced by his exhibition at Siegfried Bing’s Paris Gallery in 1895. Like many of the artists of his generation, he was greatly inspired by the mystical writing of Maeterlinck. No wonder, then, that he designed book covers and illustrations for Marie Marx-Koning, a Dutch writer unjustly neglected today, whose novels and stories also show a strong affinity with European mystical Symbolism.

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Night (1893). Lithograph.

These qualities are already exemplified by Moulijn’s first printed work, the lithograph Night from 1893 which depicts a traditional Dutch subject, a farm; but there are no peasants, and the nightly tones and silence make it look more like a farm from an Ingmar Bergman film than a landscape by his painter contemporaries from The Hague School.

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Farm at Diphorn (1896). Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

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Spring (1896). Drents Museum.

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Autumn (1895). Drents Museum.

An 1896 painting with the same subject, Farm at Diphorn, brings to mind the imaginary landscapes of Félix Vallotton, as do, more or less, two pastels which I personally feel to be his best: Spring and Autumn. Once again, the coloured areas in these Symbolist landscapes are reminiscent of a Vallotton or Franz Melchers. But where Vallotton’s landscapes might be characterised as psychological landscapes, these two by Moulijn are almost abstract experiments in colour.

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Vampire (1916). Collection Van Wezel.

Finally mention must be made, for curiosity’s sake and to satisfy the reader’s Decadent needs, of the 1916 coloured lithograph Vampire. This demonstrates Moulijn’s affinity with a more Decadent Symbolism, although by this time the style was increasingly outmoded.

Sander Bink

Previously on { feuilleton }
René Gockinga revisited
Gockinga’s Bacchanal and an unknown portrait of Fritz Klein
More from the Decadent Dutch

 


 

Posted in {art}, {books}, {design}, {painting}, {symbolists}.

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One comment or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by selmica

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    What a amazing art! Thanks!

 




 

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