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Stijl, De

Piet Mondrian (1872—1944) Dutch painter


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Charley Toorop


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Dutch painter, the daughter of Jan Toorop, christened Annie Caroline Pontiflex Toorop. She was initially drawn to music, but began exhibiting as a painter in 1909 in Amsterdam. In 1912 she married the anarchist freethinker Henk Fernhout, although her father disapproved strongly. They had three children, but the marriage did not last and in 1917 she moved to Amsterdam, living subsequently in Paris, Brussels, and Utrecht, before finally in 1932 moving into a studio in Bergen designed for her by Gerrit Rietveld. (Despite being a figurative painter she had close ties to De Stijl, through her friendship with Mondrian.) She remained in Utrect for the rest of her life. Her early paintings were strongly influenced by van Gogh: Jean-Luis Andral suggests that this was a counterweight to the strong influence of her father. Her later works, portraits, still-life and allegories, are precise and powerfully modelled. Her self-portraits have been especially admired. Three Generations (1941–50, Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam) is a haunting image showing a massive bust of her father, her son Edgar (also a painter), and Charley in the foreground, raising her brush and with the intense staring eyes, characteristic of all her self-portraits. Her best-known painting is The Clown (1941, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo), a poignant image of the 70-year-old Bembo, whose house and possessions were destroyed in the bombardment of Rotterdam and who was reduced to posing in his clown's outfit and make-up. The artist regarded it less as a portrait and more of a general comment on the disastrous turn of events for the bourgeoisie.

Further Reading

Institut Néederlandais, Magie et réalisme (2000)

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