Jan Hendrik Weissenbruchartist • painter • watercolourist • draughtsmanDen Haag 1824-1903
biography of Hendrik Johannes 'J.H.' Weissenbruch
Portrait of Hendrik Johannes 'J.H.' Weissenbruch
Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch was born in The Hague in 1824. His family, which included painters, a lithographer and engravers, was considered artistic. His father also painted in his free time and collected paintings on a small scale by, among others, Andreas Schelfhout and Bart van Hove. That is why it seems likely that Weissenbruch, who showed artistic talent at a young age, spent apprenticeship in Van Hove's studio. In the following years, nature was close to The Hague, his field of work. The Dekkersduin in particular was one of his favorite spots for drawing and watercolor painting in the 1950s. He then moved into the polder, to the area around Boskoop and Gouda.
Known are the statements that Weissenbruch made about what he found important in nature. Light and air were the most decisive factors for a painting. They were his guideline for depicting atmosphere and space in a landscape from an early age and he dealt with this theme throughout his entire painting life. 'Painters can never look at the sky enough,' he once said. He also set out again for all species. 'When it storms and rains, when it thunders and lightning, I am in my element. You have to see nature in action. '(...)' When the showers cool down, a scribble is made with charcoal or black chalk to hold what you see. When working out, tone and color are automatically remembered. 'In Augsutus 1875 he discovered the pristine lake area around Nieuwkoop and Noorden. The landscape made a big impression on him. He would go there a lot afterwards, partly because he found the space and directness of nature now that his beloved places near The Hague were rapidly changing into new-build neighborhoods.
Just like Anton Mauve, he began to paint more freely and loosely in the course of his career, making the essence of the landscape even more striking than in a detailed painting. This is also well reflected in his watercolors. For Weissenbruch, the watercolor technique was pre-eminently the medium to display the solid Dutch cloud skies or the atmospheric hues in a water-rich and damp landscape. He achieved great success both at home and abroad. Only late in his life, in 1900, did he make a trip to the French Barbizon. Possibly as a kind of tribute to the painters with whom the new depiction of nature had begun. He died three years later.