When Belgian artists Emile Claus, Camille van Camp and Euphrosine Beernaert spent a couple of summers at the isle of Walcheren, they made it the subject of their works. Sea wind in the air and surrounded by the European elite, these artists stayed at the country house of wealthy Belgian industrialist Emile de Harven. Near Domburg, they discovered the landscape mostly a spa for the wealthy. Around thirty years later, the artists’ colony of Domburg was formed when ‘modern’ artists came to the bathing resort following all-round artist Jan Toorop.
Imagine facing the lively scene at the beach on a summer’s day or – in other seasons – the absence of people and peace returning to the sand. As an artist, Domburg was quite attractive! Between 1908 and 1911, Jan Toorop and Piet Mondrian became the leading representatives of Dutch Luminism. Mondrian spent time in Domburg on a yearly basis, turning to a process of abstraction, which would lead to his Neo-Plasticism. Together with painter Mies Elout-Drabbe and with the help of friends like Ferdinand Hart Nibbrig, Jacoba van Heemskerck and Jan Heyse, Toorop organized the well-known Domburgsche Tentoonstellingen (1911-1921), in which Dutch and foreign artists participated. At the outbreak of the First World War, the artists’ colony became a place of safety for refugees from Belgium, like Hungarian painter Maurice Góth.