Fine Art

Bernardus Johannes Blommers

Dutch, 1845 - 1914

A Walk into Town

 
Oil on Board
9 1/4 x 13 inches (23.5 x 33 cm)
Framed: 19 1/4 x 23 inches (48.9 x 58.4 cm)
Signed lower right: Blommers

Provenance:

Jacques Goudstikker, The Netherlands
Acquired from the above by Sophia and Alexander Hertz, circa 1920
Then by descent

Johannes Blommers studied at the Fine Art Academy of The Hague in 1863. It was here that he became friends with Willem Maris, with whom he made a trip along the Rhine valley in 1865. Upon his return to Holland, he submitted a work to the Living Masters exhibition in Amsterdam. The painting was hung next to work of Jozef Israels. However, it was only later that year that the two artists met on the beach in Schevingen where they both were working. This became the basis of a life long friendship.

The simple life of the fishermen and farmers from Katwijk on the Sea and Scheveningen were the focal point of the paintings and watercolors of Blommers. The inspiration for Blommers was in fact Jozef Israels, but, unlike Israels, Blommers depicted his subjects in a way that avoided their daily hardships. Instead, he chose to focus on the noble joy in the lives of his subjects. During his life, Blommers received a number of awards and medals, and was popular with collectors in North America and England. In fact, he was one of the most collected artists of The Hague School.

Blommers presents a very charming scene in our painting as a mother and her two young children hold hands and walk into town, depicting an idyllic moment as they leave behind the safety of the family cottage. To Blommers, children represented happiness and innocence and in this scene we see a young girl and boy express tender willingness to accompany their mother on a simple errand. Void of any malcontent, we see a moment of tranquility as the trio embarks on their day, blessed in their purpose and humility.

Huddled children are visible further along the street perhaps on their way to school, making the subject matter of virtue and cheerful simplicity, clear and consistent with Blommer’s artistic interests. In the background, the viewer can see small houses, painted in grey and brown colors. To the left, one views a rustic reed roof and brown fence built out of wood. Blommer’s considerable skills as a painter are apparent with his use of colors and brushwork. This balanced composition and timeless palette, combined with the painting’s excellent provenance and condition make it a rare and unique example.

Our painting had been purchased in 1920 from Goldstikker’s prestigious gallery on the Herengracht in Amsterdam by an American couple, where it remained passed down for 3 generations. Jacques and Desi Goldstikker had amassed an extraordinary collection of over 1400 paintings, and were the toast of Amsterdam society, entertaining in grand style at their Nyenrode Castle. It was not long after our painting was acquired that the Collection was tragically victimized by the Nazi art confiscation program and when Goring seized many works for Hitler’s museum and personal collection.