Willem Bastiaan Tholen

Willem Bastiaan Tholen (Amsterdam, 1860 – The Hague, 1931) was one of the most talented artists of his time and was very succesful during his life.

By Dordrechts Museum

Willem Bastiaan Tholen - Zelfportret in bosrijk landschap - 1895 - Dordrechts Museum, schenking Bedrijfsvrienden (2019)Dordrechts Museum

Tholen’s generation used camera's alongside their sketchbook. Tholen wanted none of that. Relying on photographs seemed to him to signal ‘the death of art’. He relied on his own eye and hand: he drew.

Willem Bastiaan Tholen - Duinlandschap - bruikleen Particuliere collectieDordrechts Museum

‘Work outside as much as you can and observe every detail so that you later have enough in a single glance to then go to your studio and immediately set it down on the canvas’.
Gabriël to Tholen,1879

Willem Bastiaan Tholen - Vrouw bij een schotelbank in Giethoorn - ca. 1880-1885 - bruikleen Stichting Gifted Art, RotterdamDordrechts Museum

‘There is far too much beauty here! This afternoon I exclaimed in despair that I don’t want to return, every step that I took a new painting, the one more beautiful than the other and such variety.’

Willem Bastiaan Tholen - Molens bij Giethoorn - 1882-1885 - bruikleen Particuliere Collectie, Lanaken (België)Dordrechts Museum

‘We finally glided into Giethoorn at dusk, sailing unexpectedly between lushly overgrown trees, through rustic bridges, past houses with large thatched roofs – in the quiet of the village.'

Willem Bastiaan Tholen - Het Wegje, Enkhuizen - 1902 - bruikleen Particuliere collectie, NederlandDordrechts Museum

The Zuider Zee with its picturesque towns was much-loved by artists. Enkhuizen was once an important harbour full of activity, around 1900 it was a town where time seemed to have stood still.

Willem Bastiaan Tholen - Plankier Enkhuizen - 1918 - bruikleen Particuliere collectie, NederlandDordrechts Museum

Tholen based himself in Enkhuizen and enjoyed the calm. The deserted streets and harbours in his paintings exude a dreamlike tranquillity. Particularly when he captured them at twilight or by night.

Willem Bastiaan Tholen - Ewijkshoeve - bruikleen Particuliere collectie, NederlandDordrechts Museum

It was at Ewijkshoeve that Tholen developed his eye for unusual details and surprising compositions – the ‘snapshots’ that would become his trademark.

A Summer Landscape (1860/1931) by Tholen, Willem BastiaanDordrechts Museum

Sky, light and water play a leading role in nearly all of Tholen’s landscapes. Sometimes a cloudy sky or the sea are even the sole subject. He liked the spots where water and clouds predominated.

Willem Bastiaan Tholen - Vogelvilla (Uitzicht uit een raam van de Kanaalvilla) - bruikleen Particuliere collectie, DordrechtDordrechts Museum

The Tholens lived in the 'Kanaalvilla' for many years, together with the Arntzenius family. Life in and around the Kanaalvilla was a daily source of inspiration.

Willem Bastiaan Tholen - De gezusters Arntzenius - 1895 - bruikleen Museum GoudaDordrechts Museum

Tholen and his wife enjoyed a strong bond with the Arntzenius family. They all lived in the same house in The Hague.

Willem Bastiaan Tholen - Huizen in aanbouw - 1895 - bruikleen Kröller-Müller Museum, OtterloDordrechts Museum

‘Who could have imagined that in the hands of an artist a building site with piles of stones […] and wooden beams could become a glorious piece of colour and tone?’
Algemeen Handelsblad, 1896

Willem Bastiaan Tholen - Aan de slootkant - bruikleen Particuliere collectie, DordrechtDordrechts Museum

‘Owing to his great knowledge, he is able to […] combine his tender feelings with his sharp intellectual perception, which happens as it were automatically.’
R. Bakels in biography of Tholen, 1930

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