Dorp (Village)
signed 'Jacoba v Heemskerck' (lower centre)
oil on canvas
100 x 80cm.
Painted circa 1912-1914
F.W. Zeylmans van Emmichoven, The Hague.
Private Collection, Amsterdam (thence by descent).
The Wetzlar family, Amsterdam (acquired in 2003).
Thence by descent to the present owner.
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, year unknown.
The Hague, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Jacoba van Heemskerck, 2005.
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Lot Essay

Important for the development of Jacoba van Heemskerck's artistic career were the summers she spent in the house of her lifelong friend and maecenas Marie Tak van Poortvliet in Domburg. In her first summer there, in 1908 she met colleague artists like Jan Sluijters, Jan Toorop, Else Berg, Charley Toorop, Piet Mondrian and Lodewijk Schelfhout, of whom especially the latter two would have a very large influence on her early works. In this period she, as did many fellow artists, developed an interest in theosophy and anthroposophy. In the winter of 1909 and 1910 Mondrian tutored Jacoba van Heemskerck. Although there are only few works of this period known, they are show a clear luminist character.

In 1911 the Dutch Parisian artist Lodewijk Schelfhout contributed several cubist paintings to the exhibition of the artist society De Moderne Kunstkring in Amsterdam. Like many of her Dutch contemporaries, these works must have made a great impression on Jacoba van Heemskerck. From this point is in her work shows strong cubist style marks. Although cubism was only popular in The Netherlands for a few years, it played an important role in determining the direction that modern art in Holland was going.

Her cubist period was short lived and even though the works show similarities with the works of Mondrian and Schelfhout, Van Heemskerck clearly developed her own style. The present lot can be seen as the culmination of this development. While her early cubist works can be characterized by tonal colours and a fragmented play of line, the works from around 1912-1914 show a more balanced style with clear colour fields divided by black straight lines and angles. Dating Van Heemskerck's work will always be somewhat speculative; she never dated her artworks, neither did she leave any writings on her work that could help in this process. This lack of written art theory by her hand makes it difficult to determine the influence that her theosophical interest had on this work. Due to the writings of Marie Tak van Poortvliet we know that the theosophical colour and form theories played an important role in Jacoba van Heemskerck's work; however completely analysing the work on basis of these theories would be more than speculative, it would harm the aesthetic creation of the artist.

The present lot can be seen as her most pure cubist work. While in all the other works from this period there are references to natural elements, the present lot shows no fluent and organic lines: all elements have been reduced to the cubist shapes and the perspective is reduced to a minimum. This painting can therefore be seen as one of the highlights in Dutch cubism.

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