Bernardus Johannes Blommers (Dutch, 1845-1914)
A day at the beach
signed 'Blommers.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
22 ¾ x 32 ¼ in. (57.7 x 82 cm.)
Private collection, U.S.A.
Their sale; Christie’s, Amsterdam, 10 June 2009, lot 139.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Portland, Portland Museum of Art (on loan from November 2005-October 2008), loan number 9.2005.2.

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Alastair Plumb
Alastair Plumb

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Lot Essay

Bernardus Johannes Blommers was trained as a lithographer in his fathers printing studio. In the evenings he studied at the Hague Academy where he met Willem Maris (1844-1910) who became a friend for life and encouraged him to become a painter. Together they shared a studio in The Hague, which soon became an meeting-point for many Hague School artists. One of them was Jozef Israels who encouraged Blommers in 1882 to move to Scheveningen near the beach. Israels became Blommers' main advisor and influenced him enormously by focussing more on the everyday life subjects, such as peasants, fishermen and especially the daily activities on the beach of Scheveningen. Blommers and Israels used the same subjects but it is clear that both artists had a totally different approach. Israels worked in a more social-realistic dark manner and Blommers in a more narrative, lively style, for which he often used his wife and children as the main subject.

Blommers, like many Hague School painters, had a preference for placing his motifs in the centre of his paintings. Two children dominate the centre of the painting to which the spectators eye is immediately drawn. In this work he does not show any moralistic references or social commitment, but he paints the sunny side of life showing children in their happy and carefree state, which was not often the case in the real world at that time. To show depth, Blommers uses horizontals which clearly visible in the broad water section in the foreground, followed by the beach, the sea and the horizon with a narrow sky. Not only in The Netherlands, but also internationally Blommers is regarded as one of the major painters of The Hague School. His paintings were sold in Great Britain, in America and Canada. This success gave him the financial means to build a house in The Hague and later in Katwijk and enabled him to live an untroubled life. In 1914 Blommers died at the age of seventy.

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