The present lot is of monumental size and is painted using beautiful colours and a perceptive lighting plan. It may be considered a masterpiece within Graafland's overall artistic production. Using dynamic and powerful brushstrokes he creates an observant impression of three pretty girls surrounded by a summer garden in bloom. Graafland uses thick impasto to accentuate luminosity, bringing the painting to life. The detailed faces of the girls give the painting a subtlely intimate feel. It has been suggested that the girls are likely to depict Graaflands daughter and two of her friends. In 1916 Graafland painted a similar but smaller work Meisjes in de zon which was regarded as a highlight of his oeuvre and brought him a Gold Medal in Den Bosch (see: T.W. Twaalfhoven, Robert-Archibald Graafland, Venlo 1975, p. 45). During these years, Graafland would be at his easel day and night.
Graafland, born in Maastricht, painted the present lot in 1918. One of the reasons why Graafland was admired is that he created a lively artistic environment for young artists in the Dutch southern province of Limburg. He attended the Rijksacademie in Amsterdam where August Allebe (1838-1927) was his tutor. From 1898 he taught at the Stadstekeninstituut in Maastricht. Graafland travelled extensively and was inspired by the various styles his foreign colleagues employed. He took his teaching to another level by starting a Sunday school for talented pupils at his own Italianate garden. It was in this garden that he left the influences of the Hague School and the School of Barbizon and the colourful, bright influences of the French impressionists appeared in his work.
In 1910 he founded the Limburgse Kunstkring so talented artists from Limburg could be brought together. Many exhibitions in Amsterdam followed. People spoke of the paintings by Graafland as a Monticelli-achtig geheel waarin figuren zich oplossen in een fantastisch kleuren ensemble vol weelde en schittering (see: op.cit. p. 32). The present lot is an important painting from Graafland's Limburg period and has a wonderful international atmosphere.