Hendrik Jan WOLTER

(Dutch, Haarlem 1873 – 1952 Laren)

View of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas from the Prince Henry Quay in Amsterdam

Oil painting on wood panel 14.6 x 17.3 in. (37 x 44 cm.)


Provenance: Private Collection, Belgium


The Artist

Hendrik Jan Wolter was a Dutch luminist painter. He painted, made drawings, etches and lithographs of cattle, city-views, harbours, interiors of factories, nudes, portraits.

His parents were from Dutch and French origin. Hendrik Jan Wolter was born in 1873 in Amsterdam. In 1885 the family moved to Amersfoort. There the young Hendrik Jan followed the Hogere Burgerschool to prepare for training as an officer at the Military School in Haarlem. His musical and artistic mother, however, was not so enthusiastic with that choice. With her help he could give up his infantry training and, with enthusiasm, started the drawing training. In 1895 he entered the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Antwerp, Belgium, directed by A. de Vriendt, P. van Havermaet and Fr. van Leemputten. A year later he moved to the Institut Supérieur. There he stayed three years and was rewarded with the Willink van Collen Award.

During his Antwerp residence he got introduced to the work of the French Impressionists and saw the work of Pointillists like Georges Seurat, Paul Signac and Théo van Rysselberghe for the first time. This period deeply influenced the development of Wolter’s style. For example, in comparison to the work of Wolter’s contemporaries from the Netherlands, his paintings and drawings have a much more luminous and colourful quality, something clearly inspired by his Belgian training.

In 1904 he married Popkolina Van Horn and went to live in Gooikse Laren. Although a few other Pointillists as Ferdinand Hart Nibbrig and Co Breman also stayed there, Wolter was never part of the Laren School. He felt attracted to water, sea and travel and visited numerous harbours in the Netherlands. Around 1910 he moved to the English coasts of Cornwall and Devon to create truly unforgettable images, in the harbours Polperro, Lynmouth and St. Ives.

Shortly before the war 1914-18 he moved into a studio in Amstel with a view of the bridge Hoge Sluis. Although playful tingling colours still populates his luministic palette, his painting evolves to pastier and even foisted with the flat blade. In 1920 he became seriously ill. This had a noticeable dampening effect on his colorful exuberance.

In 1924 he became professor at the Amsterdam National Academy of Visual Arts. In 1930 he went on a series of study tours including Spain where he visited Motrico, Albi, Cannes and Douarnez in France and Rome, Venice and Camogli in Italy. Regarding the latter, he was so enthusiastic that in 1939, after his teacher career, he even went living in Rome. The beginning of World War II forced him to return from Italy in 1940. He settled back in Laren. Illness caused him to refrain too early from further activity.

Years after his death Wolter got, in 1959, for the first time a foreign exhibition. It was a striking homage at Bernheim-Jeune in Paris Dauberville. Works of H.J. Wolter are to be found at Museums Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, Zeeuws Museum Middelburg and Singer Museum in Laren.



Maarten Jager met een bijdrage van Renske van der Linde, “Op reis met Hendrik Jan Wolter (1873-1952)”, Amersfoort : Bekking, c2010, ISBN: 9789061090526; 9061090520
K. de Poel, “Hendrik Jan Wolter, Schilder van Licht en Kleur”, Zwolle 1992
Bénézit, E., "Dictionnaire critique des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs et graveurs", Gründ, Paris, 1999