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Johann Hendrik Weissenbruch

(1824–1903, The Hague)

Beach Scene with Two Figures and Fishing Boats. Water­colour. 9.1 x 12.7 cm. Signed with the monogram: “J.H.W”. Circa 1874.

Demonstrating an astonishing economy of means, Weissenbruch has dashed off this evocative beach scene with a few masterly strokes of the brush. He may well have observed the motif on the beach at Scheveningen close to where he lived in The Hague. The dark silhouettes of a man and a seated woman stand out starkly against the overcast sky. Although the focus here through­out is on formal reduction, the little sketch nevertheless radiates great atmospheric intensity.

Johan Hendrik Weissenbruch, a landscape artist who studied from 1843 to 1850 at the Academy of Art in The Hague, was a pupil of Andreas Schelfhout. He ranks as one of the foremost representatives of The Hague School who followed in the footsteps of the masters of Barbizon in devoting themselves to plein-air painting. Together with his nephews, Jan and Willem Roelofs, Weissenbruch was a founding member of the Pulchri Studio association of artists in The Hague.

This little study has been painted on the back of an invitation card for an opening reception (“Kunstbeschouwing”) of the association. Dated 1874, it grants the artist “and two ladies” admission to exhibition.

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