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Lot 17: Floris Arntzenius (Dutch 1864 - 1925)

Est: €60,000 - €80,000
€55,000 0 bids

Adams Amsterdam Auctions

October 9, 2022, 8:00 PM CET
Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Floris Arntzenius (Dutch 1864 - 1925)
Spuistraat, The Hague
oil on canvas
signed 'F. Arntzenius' (lower left)
image size 96 x 71 cm., frame size 117 x 92.5 cm.

Condition Report

Relined (wax), varnish slightly yellowed, craquelures and few retouchings predominantly in the lighter areas, otherwise in good condition. Framed in a gilded frame.


The Hague, Art Agencies International, Najaarsexpositie, 13 November - 28 November 1993.


Kunstgalerij Albricht, Velp.
Besselaar Collection, Princeton/The Hague.
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner in 2009.


Floris Arntzenius is undeniably one of the most famous Dutch painters active around the turn of the century. Already during his lifetime, the artist was greatly appreciated for his subtle and colourist representation of the modern world. After his death in 1925, Arntzenius was somewhat forgotten, but the posthumous exhibition 'Leven van Gisteren' [Yesterday's Life] in the Gemeentemuseum (now Kunstmuseum Den Haag) in The Hague and the Singer Museum in Laren in 1969 led to the rediscovery of his work by the general public.

Arntzenius was born in 1864 in Surabaya, Indonesia, but moved to Amsterdam in 1875. After taking painting lessons from Frederik Nachtweh (1857-1941), the artist studied at the Rijksacademie in Amsterdam, where he became friends with Jan Veth (1864-1925), Willem Witsen (1860-1923) and the two renowned Dutch impressionists: George Hendrik Breitner (1857-1923) and Isaac Israels (1865-1934). In 1888, he continued his studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, where he was influenced by the director Charles Verlat (1824-1890). After having worked in Amsterdam for some time, where he was a member of the Guild of Saint Luke and Arti et Amicitiae, he moved to The Hague in 1892 and joined Pulchri Studio.

The appreciation of Arntzenius’ work grew after he had settled in The Hague. Here he was in close contact with painters of The Hague School such as Hendrik Willem Mesdag (1831-1915). Although some scholars see Arntzenius as the representative of the second generation of the movement, his oeuvre clearly differs. Landscapes constitute only a small portion of his body of work. Instead, he chose to depict an impression of modern everyday life, preferably in the city, albeit with the help of a palette adopted from The Hague School. In this sense, his work shows a stronger affinity with that of Israels' and Breitner's.

In this monumental painting of the Spuistraat in The Hague, which can be considered one of the highlights of Arntzenius' oeuvre, everything the artist is celebrated for comes together. One can see the hustle and bustle of the busy street. A butcher's boy hurrying along with a basket, an orphan girl walking towards the viewer, mixed clientele engaging in conversation in the heat of the shopping spree, and a coach with a white horse making its way through the crowd. All of this is enclosed within the vertical composition of the street.

When it comes to the ideal painting setting, Arntzenius preferred grey, dreary weather. Not only do the shapes become blurry under such weather conditions, which suited his impressionistic manner of painting, but also the reflection of the grey sky in the wet surface of the pavement underscored the compositional structure of the painting. With a few touches of colour Arntzenius brings the whole scene to life. The artist said: “Zoo’n gevel, zie je, dat is een heerlijk ding. Allemaal van die uithangborden en vlaggestokken al dat grillige. En dan zoo even hier - en daar een kleurtje erin. Wat rood. Wat geel soms. Zoo’n tipje maar. En dan krijg je ‘t zoo levendig. Als ‘t nou wat geregend heeft dan is ‘t nog leuker: dat asfalt net een spiegel, en je krijgt al die menschen ook met kleurtjes: zoo’n donkere kerel, of ‘t lichte blauw van ‘n dienstmeisje of plots dat tintelend wit van ene slagersjongen. Dan een dame, ook kleur: wat paars of wat rood! Die asfalt straten zijn aardig hè!” ["You see, such a facade is a wonderful thing. All those signs and flagpoles, all that weirdness. And then just here - and there a little colour. A bit of red. A bit of yellow sometimes. Just a hint. And then you get it so lively. If it has rained a little it is even nicer: the asphalt is just like a mirror, and you get all those people with colours too: such a dark guy, or the light blue of a maid or suddenly that tingling white of a butcher's boy. Then a lady, also colour: some purple or some red! Those asphalt streets are nice, aren't they?"] It may be because of the latter that Arntzenius was so keen to choose the Spuistraat as the subject for his vibrant portraits of the city life: it was one of the very few asphalt streets in The Hague around 1900.

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