Old Master Paintings, Drawings, and British Portraits


JACOB DOOIJEWAARD (Amsterdam 1876 – Laren 1969)

The Red Cupboard

signed J. Dooijewaard in the lower right

oil on canvas

19 ⅞ x 16 inches          (52 x 40.6 cm.)


Private Collection, Chicago


Jacob Dooijewaard (also called Jaap or Dooyewaard) began his career by grinding colors in his father’s workshop. His younger brother Willem also became a painter. Schooled in Amsterdam, formal training began at the Quellinus School under Jan Visser from 1891-1893. This was followed by the Rijksnormaalschool voor Tekenonderwijs from 1894-1898, where he studied with Jan Derk Huibers a renowned painter of interiors. Afterwards he taught art at the Amsterdam Arts and Crafts School for five years. It was during this period that he came in contact with the Amsterdam Impressionists, particularly George Hendrik Breitner and Willem Arnold Witsen, whose rugged and broad brushwork left their mark inspiring Dooijewaard to paint the streets of his hometown. A trip to Paris for six months in the company of fellow Amsterdam artist Frans Langeveld exposed him to both classical and contemporary art, which helped broaden his horizons. Upon returning his painting evolved into a quest for the perfect balance between spontaneous impressionism and meticulous realism. The influence of Anton Mauve, Jacob Maris and Jan Veth are evident. Dooijewaard became a member of Arti et Amicitae as well as the St. Luke Society of Amsterdam and the Pulchri Studio in The Hague. In the 1902 exhibition of Arti et Amicitae he was awarded the Willink van Collem award for his three entries, and at another of their exhibitions the gold medal by Queen Wilhelmina.[1]

Engaged in painting mainly portraits and street scenes up to this point, Doojiewaard now sought subject matter that could best portray the mixing of Impressionism with Realism. Ultimately he felt interiors most suited for the embodiment of these artistic goals. Not finding what he needed in Amsterdam, his search eventually led to the Gooi, a region of moorlands and woods dotted by small villages. The population consisted of weavers, laborers and sheep farmers living in cottages whose secluded and serene atmosphere fascinated and inspired the artist. He moved to the area, rented a small studio in Laren, and encountered a whole circle of fellow artists who had been similarly inspired. Known as the Laren Group, it included such artists as Jacob Kever, Albert Neuhuys, Lammert van der Tonge, Willy Sluiter and Lion Schulman among others. Dooijewaard joined this circle, and as the popularity of cottage interiors rose especially in the American market, the fame of the group grew. In search of ever diverse interiors he painted in Brabant, Edam, Elspeet, Limburg, Nunspeet, Overijssel and Scheveningen. He also made several trips to Spain.[2]

In 1919 a close friendship developed between the painter and the American art collectors William and Anna Singer who had settled in Laren in 1901. By traveling to the United States with the Singers American commissions were secured. He also lived for long periods of time in their houses in Laren and Olden, Norway where he gave painting lessons to Anna. His Norwegian paintings reflect the northern light and the more luxurious surroundings encountered in the Singer’s home. Ultimately the Singer’s support changed the course of Dooijewaard’s career and assured his success. When Willem died in 1943 he aided Anna in establishing the Singer Museum in Laren. Their collection was so extensive that it was spread between the foundation in Laren as well as the Villa Dalheim, Olden; West-Norway Museum of Decorative Arts, Berjen; and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Hagerstown, Maryland. In the end the Singers owned well over 100 works by Dooijewaard.[3]

The artist was made an Officer of the Order of Orange Nassau, and on his eighty-fifth birthday Olaf V King of Norway bestowed upon him the Order of St. Olaf in appreciation of his artistic achievements. Besides works held in the Singer collections, examples by Dooijewaard can be found in the museums of Amsterdam; Antwerp; Barcelona; Blaricum; Den Bosch; Eindhoven; The Hague; Hilversum; Maastricht; Nijmegen; Portland, Maine; Rotterdam; and Schiedam.

The Red Cupboard encapsulates everything meaningful to the artist who strove to find the correct balance between spontaneity and representation within the simplicity of the Dutch cottage. Feeling that these interiors exemplified what should be revered in Holland, Dooijewaard portrays a rustic kitchen in which a young girl sits engrossed in a book. Resplendent in her costume of grey dress, white smock, beribboned straw hat and wooden shoes, her outfit adds to the immediacy of the scene as this can only be a brief interlude before she departs to the occasion for which she has dressed. The young girl is enveloped by the interior’s play of light and shade, with the warm coloration of the cupboard, stone floor, and checkerboard hearth furthering the comforting nature of her surroundings. Within the simplicity of this room a harmony of perfection and purity is achieved and the viewer is drawn to the refuge of the fleeting moment depicted. Throughout his career Jacob Dooijewaard continued to paint these modest domiciles seeking inside their confines the essence of the people and land he so loved.



[1] Biographical material taken from Dr. Ulrich Thieme & Dr. Felix Becker, “Jacob Dooyewaard” in Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler, Veb E. A. Seeman Verlag, Leipzig, 1913, volume IX, p. 465; Jan P. Koenraads, De Gebroeders Jacob en Willem Dooijewaard, C. de Boer Jr. N.V., te Hilversum, 1966, pp. 146-150; and Pieter A. Scheen, “Jacob Dooijewaard” in Lexicon Nederlandse Beeldende Kunstenaars 1750-1880, s’Gravenhage, 1981, p. 122.

[2] Thieme-Becker, op. cit., p. 465; and Jan P. Koenraads, pp. 150-152.

[3] Jan P. Koenraads, op. cit., pp. 154-156; and Helen Marres-Schretlen, Loving Art: the William & Anna Singer Collection, Waanders, Zwolle, circa 2006, pp. 87-88, 98, 128, 215-216, 238.

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