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THE LANDSCAPES OF WILLEM BASTIAAN THOLEN
Willem Bastiaan Tholen was raised in the town of Kampen, where he grew up in an artistic environment. His father, P.H.H. Tholen (1831-1913) was an enthousiastic amateur painter. He also acquainted his son with life in the country by going sailing, fishing and ice-skating. In this way Tholen became familiar with the landscape of the river IJssel, with its impressive skies.
At the local artschool Willem Bastiaan received his training from J.D. Belmer (1827-1909), who instilled in him a lifelong fascination for the arts. Together with his pupils, among whom Jan Voerman, Willem Witsen and Piet Meinders, Belmer set out with his folding chair, sketchbook and painting material to paint along the ship-canal in the surrounding countryside.
The most important and recurrent theme in Tholen's early works are the peat-landscapes around Kampen, where the artist worked together in the early 1880's with Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriel. During the summers they spent together, the two artists lodged in small working-class houses and ventured out at day time into the rugged peat moors.
Besides portraying each other at work in little boats, Gabriel and Tholen also executed paintings with exactly the same subject-matter. The latter is illustrated by Paysage Hollandais (lot 207) of which Gabriel painted a comparable piece (H. Jansen a.o., De Haagse School, Rotterdam 1997, p. 61, ill.). Gabriels tutelage proved to be of great significance for Tholen and his influence remained unmistakable during these early years.
In 1880 Belmer took Tholen to Giethoorn for the first time. A visit that made a great impression on the young painter: "Eindelijk gleden wij in de avondschemering over het spiegelgladde water Giethoorn binnen, vaarden onverwacht tussen welig uitgegroeide boomen, door rustieke bruggen, langs woningen met grote roetdaken- in de rust en stilte van het dorp, waar de dagtaak was geeindigd. Het was betooverend" (R.S. Bakels, W.B. Tholen, The Hague 1930, p. 22). Between 1880 and 1885 Tholen often returned to his favorite Giethoorn, either alone or together with his fellow-artist Gabriel. The works dating from this period are characterized by rich and bright colors and a thick brushstroke (see lot 208)
Through the years Gabriel's influence diminished and Tholen developed a style of his own. As early as 1883, Tholen gained international recognition and work by his hand was exhibited in Munich. A year later, Tholen participated in three international exhibitions and was rewarded various medals.
From 1885 onwards, Tholen spent many summers together with his friend Willem Witsen in the latter's country house 'Ewijckshoeve'. This house was situated in the woods of Soestdijk and served as a meeting place for friends of the family Witsen. Among the artistic figures who visited the charming country house were Anton Mauve, George Breitner, Willem Maris Jr., Jacobus van Looy, Eduard Karsen, Piet Meinders, Jan Veth and Jan Toorop. Tholen was strongly inspired by the surroundings of Ewijckshoeve and painted various forest views whilst staying there. These works differed from his early work by a softer palet. During a stay at the Ewijkshoeve Tholen also met his future wife Coba Muller, with whom he eventually moved to The Hague.
In 1890 Willem Bastiaan and Coba moved together with the Arntzenius family to the 'Kanaalvilla' near the Witte Brug, on the border of The Hague and Scheveningen. The villa was surrounded by a beautiful garden and was situated close by the channel of The Hague to Scheveningen. The towboats and walkers along this channel became a favorite topic for Tholen and he aimed at portraying them in harmony with their surroundings (see lots 211, 214 and 217). While living in The Hague, Tholen continued painting forest-views and herefore found his inspiration in the Haagse Bos and in the Scheveningse Bosjes. During this period, he produced small pictures of idyllic forest clearings in warm autumn colours (see lot 210).
A Selection from Kunsthandel Pieter A. Scheen B.V. (Lots 185-218)