Hendrik Jan Wolter was born on 16 July 1872 in Haarlem. During his study in Antwerp, where he moved at the age of 22, Wolter was influenced by the work of Georges Seurat (1859-1891), Claude Monet (1840-1926) and Paul Signac (1863-1935) which resulted in paintings full of light and elements of luminist and pointillist painting. His main theme became the representation of water and (sun)light painted in pastel colours which he perfected in his paintings of fishing boats in the harbours of St Ives and Polperro in Cornwall in the years before the Great War.
Right before the War in 1914 Wolter moved from Laren to Amsterdam, where he had a studio on the third floor of the Amsteldijk 47. From the first moment he was highly fascinated by the view from his studio window, which is depicted in the present lot. The river Amstel is visible with the bridge to the Ceintuurbaan in the foreground, across the river is the boathouse of the student rowing-club, the Amstelbrug and the Amstel Hotel in the distance. On the reverse of the canvas, the river Amstel is depicted in summer with the Amsteldijk on the left, just outside Amsterdam in the direction of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel.
This city view of Amsterdam attracts the attention immediately by its bright and pastel colours. The blue water of the river stands out against the white faded bridge in the foreground, continuing its way past the boat house of the student rowing-club to the large red-brown Amstel Hotel. In the background of the painting there is a slight resemblance of Carré theatre and the Magere Brug. The continious change of light and colour over the water got hold of him. This Amstel view is a splendid testimony to his fascination with the continuous change of light and colour over the water which throughout the years continued to capture his imagination.
The author of the monography on the artist Klaas de Poel described this fascination as follows: 'The subject was always the same, but the shifting play of light and colour over the water captivated the artist (...). If the wheather would stay hazy the moist saturated atmosphere would cover the city view in a blue haze of tender pastel shades. (...) Wolter approached the lightness and vivacity of the Parisians in his Amsterdam town views' (see: Klaas de Poel, Hendrik Jan Wolter. Schilder van licht en kleur, Zwolle 1992, p. 61). And 'From his studio along the Amstel (Amsteldijk 47) Wolter can see the Hoge sluis, with a dominating Amstelhotel near the Ceintuurbaanbrug. In astonishment he observes from his window the hazes over the water and the evening sun, illuminating bridges and buildings in a golden glow. In these atmospherical Amstel views the pointill technique from his luminist period is gradually being replaced by more tonal, harmoniously tuned colourfields. Fascinated by the alternating gamut of colours, he painted the Amstel repeatedly. In these pieces he was not interested what he painted, but how and in which colours.' (see: Klaas de Poel, 'H.J. Wolter (1873-1952)', p. 48, in: Tableau, Vol. 7, no. 3, December 1984, pp. 43-52).
We would like to thank Mr Wolter Wefers Bettink, chairman of the Foundation H.J. Wolter, for his help in cataloguing the present lot.