Bernard Blommersartist • painter • watercolourist • draughtsmanDen Haag 1845-1914
biography of Bernardus Johannes Blommers
Portrait of Bernardus Johannes Blommers
Bernard Blommers, initially destined for a life as a lithographer in his father's printing company, decided at a young age to follow his heart and take evening classes at the Academi in The Hague. There he met Willem Maris. Together they regularly went outside to paint nature and in 1865 they made a trip along the Rhine. In the same year, Blommers made his debut at the Living Masters Exhibition in Amsterdam, where his entry was given a place of honor alongside a large beach view by Jozef Israëls.
The twenty years older Israelis, who shortly afterwards became a friend for life, had a great influence on the work of Blommers. They both depicted the simple life of farmers and fishermen in Katwijk aan Zee and Scheveningen. But where Israelis usually portrayed the harsh living conditions of the fishing population, Blommers saw everything from the bright side and emphasized the cosiness of the dark fisherman's houses. As the father of a large and lively family, he painted the happy family life. His early works, mostly sunny beach scenes with bathing guests for which his children were modeled in Scheveningen costumes, have been worked out in detail, with a strong sense of color.
Until around 1900 Blommers worked in Scheveningen and Zandvoort. But when Scheveningen developed more and more into a sophisticated seaside resort, he moved to Katwijk aan Zee. There he built the Villa Thérèse, named after his youngest daughter. Just like Israëls, Blommers had a 'Scheveningen corner' there. Blommers mainly spent summer and autumn in this fishing town; the rest of the year he was in The Hague and Scheveningen. Every year he also worked for a few weeks in Heeze in Brabant.
The work of Blommers was very popular at home and abroad. Many of his paintings were traded via Goupil in Amsterdam to England, Scotland and the United States. At the height of his fame, around 1906, people had to pay around 8,000 guilders for a painting by him. Blommers enjoyed life and traveled to the United States several times, where he was even received by President Theodore Roosevelt.
Later in his life, under the influence of Jacob Maris, Blommers develops a more impressionistic, loose touch, and then his light and muted colors determine the character of his paintings.