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


 

The art of Henricus Jansen, 1867–1921

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This week’s post is another by Sander Bink about a neglected artist of the Dutch fin de siècle. Once again, this is an artist whose work was new to me. The Mucha-like style of the later pictures (and the one above from the same series) are especially good. My thanks again to Sander for the post.

* * *

Henricus Jansen (1867–1921) was a Dutch painter, graphic artist and illustrator who used ‘Henricus’ as his artist’s name, ‘Jansen’ being a very common and decidedly unsexy surname. He originated from The Hague where Art Nouveau and symbolism flourished in the 1890s more than any other Dutch city.

In the little that has been written about Henricus he is usually considered not to be avant-garde or progressive enough to be an ‘important artist’ (whatever that may mean). He is, however, mentioned in the standard reference work Symbolism in Dutch Art by Polak from 1955. Extensive studies have never been published about him and my main source of information about his life and work is an unpublished university thesis from 1988 by Louis Baeten of which I happen to have a copy. Baeten had spoken to Henricus’s daughter who was then still alive. According to the thesis Henricus must have made hundreds of drawings and paintings but they seem to be quite rare nowadays and seldom come to auction.

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For example, Henricus visited Tunisia in 1901 where Baeten says he produced more than 67 pastels and drawings of which “only seven survive”. These were exhibited in The Hague in 1901, and Leiden in 1907. One of these is depicted here from a private collection: a charming, somewhat cartoon-like ink drawing of three Tunisian male figures.

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From 1887 till 1892 Henricus lived in Paris where he mingled in the bohemian and artistic circles around Le Chat Noir, and knew people like Rodolphe Salis and Paul Verlaine. The drawings and illustrations he produced from around 1890 are strongly influenced by Parisian graphic artists like Steinlen, Grasset and Willette, uncommon models in Dutch art of the 1890s. Examples like the drawing of a lady in an antique market (above) are to be found in his illustrations for a book by Johan Gram, ‘s-Gravenhage in onzen tijd (The Hague nowadays) from 1893.

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More Symbolist in style, and therefore probably more of interest to { feuilleton } readers, are his illustrations for the popular magazine Elsevier’s. The picture shown here is a lithograph he made for the poem ‘Paulinus van Nola’ by the Flemish poet Pol de Mont, published in 1895.

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But his chef d’oeuvre is a series of lithographs inspired by the medieval folk song Heer Halewijn (Lord Halewijn), published in 1904 and exhibited in The Hague the same year, of which three are depicted here (from the collection Van der Peppel.) The most famous of the series is plate number sixteen in which Lord Halewijn’s head is decapitated by a charming lady. It is obviously inspired by Beardsley’s Salomé but is made with an entirely different technique and in colours. There is also a touch of Puvis de Chavannes and Carlos Schwabe to them. They are among the finest examples of Dutch fin de siècle graphic art.

Sander Bink

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Previously on { feuilleton }
The art of Antoon van Welie, 1866–1956
The art of Simon Moulijn, 1866–1948
René Gockinga revisited
Gockinga’s Bacchanal and an unknown portrait of Fritz Klein
More from the Decadent Dutch

 


 

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

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