There is a story by the Roman writer Pliny about the Greek painter Zeuxis, who was able to paint his grapes so real and true to nature that birds wanted to peck at them. This realistic, and imitation of nature in detail was taken up as a challenge by later painters. In the Dutch painting tradition, the portrayal of reality "from life" was a dominant factor from the 15th century until the Impressionism of the 19th century put an end to this. After all, the emphasis in French Impressionism and the Hague School was on quickly registering the effects of light in a loose brushstroke, which left no room for developing shapes. With the color and form experiments of the subsequent Neo-Impressionism, Luminism, Cubism and Expressionism, painting in the early 20th century moved further and further away from the faithful representation of reality. This changed in our country around 1925. Faced with the emotional discharges of expressionism, a group of painters in the 1920s and 1930s created a picture of reality based on objective registration. This new realism, also called new objectivity, is believed to have been fueled by the economic crisis and political instability in the interwar period. The atmosphere of the time with its uncertainties seemed to call for a return to traditions rather than further experiments. Together with magical realism and surrealism, the new objectivity formed the face of realism in the Netherlands between 1925 and 1945.
The term "new objectivity" originated in Germany, where around 1925 "Neue Sachlichkeit" referred to an emerging realistic trend among painters, architects and photographers. In 1929 this movement was presented at an exhibition of De Onafpendenceen in Amsterdam in our country, alongside work by like-minded Dutch painters such as Harmen Meurs, Wout Schram and Raoul Hynckes. A favorite subject of these artists was the still life of everyday objects. In addition, people painted cityscapes; landscapes and figures are considerably less common. Although the aim was objectivity, there is often no completely neutral representation of the subject. For example, Jan van Tongeren seems to be more concerned with the arrangement of shapes and colors on the flat surface than with making an exact copy of reality, Charley Toorop and Rebecca van Gelder were concerned with the expression of feelings and painters processed as Chris Beekman, Harmen Meurs, Jan van Hell and Peter Alma social criticism in their work.
Around 1930 the Dutch magical realists went further in processing concepts and ideas. Their paintings are objectively and faithfully painted, but because they merge parts of reality into an unreal whole, their work evokes a feeling of alienation and unease. "Magic realism employs imaginations that are possible but not likely," said Pyke Koch. Apart from Koch, Carel Willink and Raoul Hynckes belong to this movement. Sometimes Dick Ket and the late Wim Schuhmacher are also mentioned in this context. Much smaller in size in the Netherlands was Surrealism, launched by André Breton in 1924 and widespread. In the 1930s, the movement was concentrated in Utrecht around the painters Joop Moesman, Willem van Leusden and Gerrit van 't Net. They created wonderful combinations of objects that they depict extremely detailed and realistic.
Outside the new realism is the work of the Ede painter Jan Eversen, who tried to emulate the realism of the Dutch 17th-century still life painters. As an admirer of Willem Kalf, Jan Davidsz. de Heem and Willem Claesz Heda, he studied their painting process to discover how they depict material expression and light and then applied this in his own still lifes. He regularly depicted a number of objects that were dear to him, such as a pewter Rembrandt jug, Westerwald jugs, Wanli bowls and a Venetian glass. His craftsmanship and knowledge of 17th-century painting technique were an example for the younger Henk Helmantel. In his detailed painted still lifes he pays attention to composition, light and the harmony between the lived objects he depicts.