One of my favourite Dutch painters is George Hendrik Breitner (Rotterdam, 12 september 1857 – Amsterdam, 5 juni 1923). Breitner is a Dutch impressionist. Objects in his paintings are his muse, model Geesje Kwak, the city of Amsterdam and havens.
Here is the serie of the girl in kimono. In the last half of 19th century, European artists were enchanted by Japan. Think of Monet, Manet en Van Gogh works which are inspired by Japanese art. So is this serie. I love it.
The color, the pose, the diffused light and the model. It feels almost voyeurish looking at it. The model is Geesje Kwak, Breitner’s muse. Miss Kwak was a shopkeeper in a hat boutique. She posed a lot for Breitner.
De Singelbrug bij de Paleisstraat in Amsterdam. This is one of my Breitner faves beside the girl in kimono. The angle is unusual for that time. It is like Breitner painted a photograph. He captured common people who pass by, in a hurry because of the Amsterdam gloomy weather.
I went to Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam last year and took this following pic. De singelbrug … hangs next to the kimono girl. Beautiful and mysterious.
Trivia: Breitner is probably the only painter whose name is used in a saying. People of Amsterdam describe gloomy, cold and rainy weather as Breitner’s weather. Just like the weather in his painting.
Like Edvard Munch, Breitner is also a photographer. Actually he is one of the pioneers of street photography. He captured the movements and city vibes with his hand camera.
Here is a photograph of Geesje Kwak, posing for the girl in kimono.
Breitner made a couple of thousands photographs, snapshots of the city and its people. These remained undiscovered untill 1961 when they emerged to the surface. In 2012 Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam hold an exposition about Breitner the photographer and his works.
Amazing how Breitner successfully combined his observation through the lens and on canvas. He blended this together, be it in the angle, diffused light and composition. The intensive brushstrokes are raw but yet refined. I can enjoy his works for hours. Like Vermeer, Breitner is one of my inspirations for lighting in photography.
Images are from Rijksmuseum and WikiArt and WikiCultured
Booijmans and Beuningen museum