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Jan Hendrik Wolkers (1925 - 2007)

Lot 251: First ever surfaced lampshade by Jan Wolkers

Adams Amsterdam Auctions

May 27, 2019
Amsterdam, Netherlands

More About this Item


Description

- WOLKERS, Jan (Dutch 1925 - 2007). Gezicht op de Academie te Leiden [A view of the Leiden University], 1943 - 1944. Lampshade: pen, ink and oil on thick paper, inscribed 'Academia Leidensis' (upper left). The shade folded and flattened, damaged at the folds, with several smaller tears (incl. one closed vertical tear), with intentional yellowing and craquelure (original condition). No other copies traced.

Dimensions

30.5 x 66 cm.

Artist or Maker

WOLKERS, Jan (Dutch 1925 - 2007).

Provenance

Family of the first owner, P.J. Idenburg, Leiden

Notes

After 75 years, a lampshade painted by Jan Wolkers has surfaced for the first time. Prominently present in his first novel 'Kort Amerikaans' (1962), it was mentioned several times in interviews, but has never been found before in real life. Did they exist, the lampshades that Wolkers claimed to have painted during the war? The answer is yes. From the estate of the first owner, P.J. Idenburg, finally one shows up. Not with a battle scene as in the book, but with the Academy Building in Leiden, seen from the other side of the Rapenburg. The image is based on a well-known 18th century copper engraving after J.J. Bijlaert (cf. image). In 1943 Wolkers started working at the studio of Jonkheer de Milly, d’Ailleurs in the novel. He painted lampshades there in the morning, and went to the Academy in the afternoon. 'Kort Amerikaans' describes in detail how the lampshades were made and how they were "made old". Old engravings were traced with the help of a light box. The tracing paper was painted with dark colours and then treated with "craqueleervernis" (crackling varnish): “wat doet die Rembrandt van het schemeruur. Hij bekliedert onze tekeningen met de meest afschuwelijke kleuren. Gewoon goor tabakssap” [what does this Rembrandt of dusk. He molds our drawings with the most horrible colours. Just filthy tobacco juice]. The lampshade offered here exactly meets this description. It looks like it has been in a ‘brown café (bruin café) all the time. The paint layer is completely intact under a completely cracked varnish layer that nevertheless never peels off. The lamp was discarded long ago, the lampshade has been stored flat in a folder ever since. Onno Blom, the biographer of Jan Wolkers, dates his first work of art to 26 August 1944. Although not an original work of art, the lampshade is now his oldest. Given his relationship with the university, it is likely that Idenburg himself chose the print, assuming he did not receive the shade as a gift. The lampshade with this deviating picture gets another dimension when we realize that it was ordered after Idenburg's resignation from the Senate Committee. In 1942 he was forced to leave after he had refused to dismiss non-Aryan employees. Immediately after the liberation of Holland in 1945 he returned - with or without the lampshade - and in 1978 he published his book about the period: De Leidse Universiteit 1928-1946: vernieuwing en verzet, 's-Gravenhage, Universitaire Pers Leiden, 1978. 'Jan Wolkers' lampshade', as it was referred to in the family, was handed down to Idenburg’s brother, the grandfather of the current owner.

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NRC 11 - Fine Art

by
Adams Amsterdam Auctions
May 27, 2019, 6:30 PM CET

Amsterdam, Netherlands

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