Broek in Waterland

Jan Toorop (Dutch, 1858-1928)

Currently on View in H206
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  • In this carefully composed landscape, narrow canals and rows of pollard willows form strong diagonals that intersect the ribbons of color in the evening sky. Even the figures contribute to this taut network. Gliding through the water at day’s end, they may reflect the artist’s sympathy for laborers, a sentiment shared by many Neo-Impressionists.
  • Broek in Waterland is the name of a beautiful village near Amsterdam that Toorop, the most influential of Seurat’s Dutch followers, visited in 1889. The artist applied the regular dotted brushwork common to the style, but chose unusual colors for this twilight scene that do not strictly follow standard Neo-Impressionist practice.
Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

Broek in Waterland is the name of a beautiful village just north of Amsterdam. For centuries, emperors, tsars, and other distinguished visitors toured this small community of neat wooden houses, situated by a “broek,” or marsh. In February 1889, Jan Toorop traveled there with the Belgian poet and critic Emile Verhaeren. Later that year, he painted this vivid memoir of winter twilight in the countryside beyond the village.

Toorop was among several progressive artists in Belgium and the Netherlands who eagerly experimented with the Neo-Impressionist methods of Georges Seurat, whose work made a highly publicized debut in Brussels in 1887. Toorop became the most influential Dutch practitioner of the style, though his Neo-Impressionist canvases are quite rare.

The dramatic color scheme of Broek in Waterland pits the deep blues and greens of the land against the glowing hues of water and sky. Though Toorop applied Neo-Impressionist color principles selectively, he did adopt its pointillist, or dotted, brushwork. Enhancing the power of this vivid landscape is its strong geometric structure. The shallow canals form two sharply receding diagonals, echoed by the bare trunks of the pollard willow trees and intersecting the ribbons of color in the evening sky. Even the couple, with their reflection in the rippling waters of the foreground, contributes to this firm network. Gliding through the water at day's end, they may well mirror the artist's sympathy for working men and women, a sentiment shared by many of his Neo-Impressionist colleagues.

C. Sijtoff, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, by 1894.{1}
C. van Stolk, Rotterdam, by 1928 and in his family until at least 1937.{2}
(Kunsthandel Ivo Bouwman, The Hague).{3}
(John and Paul Herring & Co., New York, New York), probably by 1973;{4}
Walter F. Brown, San Antonio, Texas; {5}
Acquired by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, now the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfieldss, in 2000.

{1} Sijthoff is listed as the owner in the exhibition catalogue "Tentoonstelling van Schilderijen en teekeningen van Jan Toorop," Kunstzaal Stedelijk Museum (Lakenhal), Leiden, 6 February - 1 March 1894, no. 4. (A facsimile of this catalogue appears in J.M. Joosten, "De eerste solo-tentoontelling van Jan Toorop," Antiek, 11 nr. 7 (February 1977): p. 577, with installation photos of this exhibition showing Broek in Waterland, p. 574.)
{2} Probably Cornelis Adriaan Pieter van Stolk [1857-1934], scion of a wealthy shipping family and member of the Rotterdam "Kunstkring". In 1928 C. van Stolk is given as the owner in "Eere-tentoonstelling Jan Toorop," Den Haag (Pulchri Studio), The Hague, no. 23; information from RKD (Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie), The Hague, via e-mail in April 2007. In 1936-36 the owner is given as "Verzameling: C. van Stolk" in Schilderijen uit de divisionistische school van Georges Seurat tot Jan Toorop," Museum Boymans, Rotterdam, 1936-37, no. 68 (ill.).
{3} Confirmed with Ivo Bouwman via e-mail in April 2007.
{4} Robert Siebelhoff's dissertation, "The Early Development of Jan Toorop, 1879-1892," Ph.D., University of Toronto, 1973, identifies the owner as private collection, New York." This is likely a reference to the dealers John and Paul Herring, who often chose to remain anonymous about the paintings that passed through their hands, see "Quiet Partners in Big Art-World Business," New York Times, 14 May 1994.
{5} IMA Temporary Receipt no. 9438.

Object Information

Jan Toorop (Dutch, 1858-1928)
creation date
oil on canvas
27 x 30 in. (canvas)
38-1/4 x 42 x 2-7/16 in. (framed, glazed)
mark descriptions
Signed lower right: Jan Toorop 89
accession number
credit line
Gift in memory of Robert S. Ashby by his family and friends
Public Domain
European Painting and Sculpture 1800-1945

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