October 29, 2011

Jan Toorop: The Sea (1887); Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

The Dutch artist Jan Toorop is mainly known for his work in Symbolist and Art Nouveau style, probably being the most significant representative of these movements in the Netherlands (see my post of 11 September 2010 about his print O grave, where is thy Victory, dating from 1892). But before reaching this point, Toorop (1858-1928) underwent many artistic influences and tried out several styles, such as Realism, Impressionism and Pointillism.
Toorop created this colorful painting in 1887, during the period that he lived and worked in The Hague, near the North Sea. He had just returned from a long stay in Brussels, where he had made many friends in the art world and became acquainted with the latest trends. From his soul mate James Ensor, a famous Flemish artist, he had learned a new technique to apply paint on the surface: Ensor smeared thick layers directly on the canvas.
 In his new place of residence, Toorop was highly inspired by the Dutch coast. He used his newly acquired experimental working method in a brilliant way to depict the wild sea. This painting reveals the essence of the term ‘Impressionism’: it is as if you can smell the salt water, feel the wind blow and hear the water bubbling and splashing.

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