JACOBA VAN HEEMSKERCK (1876-1923) ARTIST AND SOURCE OF INSPIRATION | A SMALL TRIBUTE
Exhibition extended untill the 10th of December!
During her life, Jacoba van Heemskerck was better known in Germany than in her own country, but she fell into oblivion not long after her death. Since the 1980s, attention has been paid to her again and now, one hundred years after her death, the MTVP Museum Domburg is dedicating a memorial exhibition to her and her work. That she is also a source of inspiration for contemporary artists, is reflected in a series of works by European artists inspired by her.
The exhibition in Domburg provides an overview of Van Heemskerck’s development phases, with the emphasis on her bond with Domburg. Initially, Jacoba spent the summers, and eventually the whole year, with her life companion Marie Tak van Poortvliet in Domburg. The surroundings of the town with its Manteling forests, whimsical dune area and sea that always seems different were a great source of inspiration for her. Paintings, drawings and countless woodcuts were created from trees, some flowers and sailing boats off the coast, motifs that would also form part of the glass designs from her last phase of life.
Different development stages
Originally, Jacoba worked realistically, but in Domburg she fell under the spell of Luminism. Dutch Luminism was inspired by the work of Van Gogh and by all modern French movements from Impressionism onwards. On Walcheren, Jan Toorop and Piet Mondrian were its great foremen. Under their influence, some beautiful pointillist works were created. But Neo-Impressionism did not satisfy Jacoba for long. She especially missed the expressive possibilities of the line, which she then gave free reign to. In this phase her work became sober, muted in colour and simple in form, leaning towards the abstract and thanks to Lodewijk Schelfhout and – again – Mondrian towards Cubism.
Like Marie Tak, she would find the spiritual guidance she sought in Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy, which arose from theosophy around 1912.
Due to Jacoba’s poor health, she and Marie lived relatively withdrawn, also in the beneficial Domburg. More important than the influence of Jacoba’s Domburg colleagues and decisive for her further development was the contact that arose with Herwarth Walden after his invitation to participate in the Erster Deutscher Herbstsalon (September 1913) in Berlin, an international exhibition of modern art. From that moment on, Jacoba’s work changed completely and her already somewhat difficult contact with the circle around Toorop in Domburg faded. She found her own style in Walden’s expressionist Berlin group Der Sturm and was welcomed into Der Sturm’s Berlin as a great artist. She and Marie would then increasingly focus on Germany.
Jacoba van Heemskerck came into her own best in the restrictions of the woodcut and the glass technique; with her stained glass windows she eventually also acquired fame in the Netherlands.
From 1919 her contact with Herwarth Walden became less close. In 1920 she exhibited in the Netherlands for the first time in years and made plans for exhibitions in Brussels, Paris and the United States. A world still seemed open to her when she died rather unexpectedly in Domburg on August 3, 1923.
The exhibition Jacoba van Heemskerck (1876-1923). Artist and Source of Inspiration | A small tribute includes examples of Jacoba’s main sources of inspiration. Trees drawn in strong lines, miscellaneous representations of sailboats off the coast on canvas and on paper, in woodcuts, drawings and paintings, show her various development phases in brief.
The fact that Jacoba van Heemskerck, beyond that, also inspires contemporary artists is clear from a separate presentation accompanying the commemorative exhibition: of several artists from the Netherlands and Germany, as well as their colleagues from Belgium, France, Hungary and Taiwan, works inspired by her and her oeuvre are shown. What also brings these artists together is a bond with euroart, the Federation for European Artists’ Colonies. The ICEAC, the International Centre for the Study of European Artists’ Colonies, functions as the scientific branch of euroart and works closely with the MTVP Museum Domburg. This exhibition with publication is a joint initiative of the Centre and the Museum.