This is an absolutely extraordinary painting. A fascinating mixture of dress and accoutrements are visible, from Victorian (top hat), earlier (flintlock pistols left over from the Peninsular war), even older (traditional peasant costume) to the modern. We know this is the Basque country in Spain by the berets (blue). Each face vivid, unforgettable. There is definitely the feel of a historical allegory in this vivid grouping. But the year is 1937.
The Spanish Civil War is in its second year. Artists and writers from all over Europe are drawn into the conflict, on the Loyalist left-wing side, as was the Basque Nationalist party. These young foreigners are there to observe, to report, to support, even to fight. The artist is Dutch, his style recognizably that of the Bergen school, lightly expressionist, very lightly cubist, intensely humanist. And he is brilliant. History, in the nightmare shapes of the Republican defeat, the rise of Fascism, and the Second World War, intervenes.
He turns up in the record in the 1950s as a respected restorer of paintings in Schenectady, New York. No mention of him as a painter in his own right. A postwar immigrant. A survivor. Disappears into obscurity again.
But we have this painting. Passionate, compassionate, satiric, alive, young, enraged and just terrific.
Canvas measures 30 1/4″ x 47 1/4″
Price on request.
The Bergen School (Dutch: Bergense School) was a movement in Dutch painting which manifested itself between 1915 and 1925. It is characterised by an expressionist style, influenced by cubism and showing a preference for darker colours. The participating artists lived and worked in or near the artist’s village Bergen in the province of Noord-Holland. A considerable number of artists had already been living or working in Bergen before; thus the village had become known as an ‘artist colony’. A majority of painters belonging to the group lived close to each other on the Buerweg, in the neighbourhood Bergen Binnen, which is situated in between Bergen and Bergen aan Zee.
The founders of this movement were the French painter Henri Le Fauconnier and the Dutch painter Piet van Wijngaerdt. They gained many adherents among young painters who agitated against Impressionism, just like Fauvism did in France and Expressionism in Germany. The art theories of the group were largely written down in the magazine ‘Het Signaal’ (The Signal). The art historian F.M. Huebner was the first one to write about the Bergense School.
The works of the Bergense School are characterised by figurative depiction with cubist influences, an expressionist touch and in dark colors. The artists had a preference for painting Still life and the Human figure. The movement was a first original expression of a Dutch movement later to be named Expressionism. Its name refers to the village where the painters established, as is assumed because of its special light.
Among the most celebrated artists belonging to this avantgardist School were Charley Toorop and John Rädecker. In particular the Amsterdam art collector Piet Boendermaker and C.W.N. Baard contributed to the fame of the Bergense School. Other members of the School are: Else Berg, Gerrit van Blaaderen, Arnout Colnot, Dirk Filarski, Leo Gestel, Jaap Weijand, Frans Huysmans, Harrie Kuyten, Kees Maks, Jaap Sax, Mommie Schwarz, Jan Sluyters, Wim Schumacher, Matthieu Wiegman and Piet Wiegman. Other painters whose works are related to the Bergense School are Jelle Troelstra, Henri ten Holt, Bernard Essers, Henk Chabot and Thé Lau. Painters like Karel Colnot, Jaap Min and Henk van den Idsert belong to a later generation, but started their careers under the influence of the Bergense School.
Museum Kranenburgh in Bergen (NH) and the Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar own a considerable number of works by representatives of the Bergense School.