Monday, 8 February 2016

Breitner: Girl in Kimono

Girl in a White Kimono, 1894, George Hendrik Breitner. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

In museums around the Netherlands, paintings of a charming young girl in a kimono are on view. They are the works of Dutch artist George Hendrik Breitner. In the exhibition Breitner: Girl in Kimono the Rijksmuseum of the Netherlands will display all of the 13 works by Breitner of the girl in a kimono.
The Influence of Japonism
Breitner painted his girl in a kimono series around 1894. This was the period when Japonism was in full bloom, and European artists like Monet and Van Gogh were heavily influenced by Japanese art. Breitner, who was a friend of Van Gogh, also avoided becoming completely steeped in the traditions of Western art. He developed a strong interest in the flat lines and clear contrasts in Japanese prints and became a collector himself.

Girl in Kimono: Geese Kwak
fig. G.H. Breitner, Geesje Kwak in rode kimono, 1893-1895.
Daglichtgelatinezilverdruk, originele afdruk. RKD,
Nederlands Instituut voor Kunstgeschiedenis, Den Haag
The girl in kimono is Geese Kwak who worked in a hat shop and was a frequent model of Breitner from the age of 16 to 18. Most of these works were painted in the same room. Behind the bed covered with an Oriental rug stands a folding screen that limits the sense of depth and thus heightens the sense of intimacy. Geese lies on the bed dressed in a red or white kimono dotted with small floral print. Her head rests on a cushion, her arms sometimes raised behind her head, and she languidly stares into space.

The Netherlands Institute for Art History houses some 2,300 photographs taken by Breitner. He would digest what he saw through the lens and depict that onto his canvass. A comparison of the photos (fig) he took for Girl in Kimono with the final paintings offers a chance to trace that path of creation.

Breitner: Girl in Kimono February 20 to May 22

Museumstraat 1
1071 CJ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Opening times:
Open daily 9:00-17:00