As with every other major city in the Netherlands, Rotterdam has accommodated the arts since at least the medieval period and still hosts many important cultural initiatives related to historical, modern and contemporary art. Read on to discover seven groundbreaking artists from the city.
During the early 17th century, Willem Pieterszoon Buytewech developed a new style of group portraiture that art historians now call a Merry Company. This type of painting commonly depicted small bands of people drinking together and enjoying music. Although Willem Pieterszoon Buytewech likely painted dozens of pieces during his lifetime, only eight of his paintings have survived, most of which are recognised as Merry Companies.
Although Grinling Gibbons was born in Rotterdam he spent most of his life working in England as one of the country’s most celebrated sculptors and wood carvers. He was commissioned to create decorative pieces for several important monuments in Britain including St. Paul’s Cathedral and Kensington Palace. His work often featured botanical motifs such as pea pods, leafs or fruit.
During her career, Bramine Hubrecht won many esteemed prizes for her artwork and served as member at several important artistic societies in the Netherlands including Amsterdam’s prestigious Arti et Amicitiae. As a painter and draughtsman Hurbrecht worked within a wide range of genres including portraiture and landscape painting. Many of her artworks are included within the Rijksmuseum’s collection.
Whilst Hendrikus Chabot wasn’t actually born in Rotterdam he spent a large portion of his career in the city and frequently depicted its people and likeness in his artwork. One of his most famous paintings de Brand van Rotterdam portrays the aftermath of the German airforce’s bombardment of Rotterdam during World War II and is on permanent display inside the city’s Chabot Museum.
After moving to Manhattan, New York City in 1927 to pursue a career as a painter Willem de Kooning met many influential modern artists in the city and eventually became an important member of the Abstract Expressionism movement. De Kooning was active until the tail end of the 20th century and created dozens of groundbreaking, invaluable artworks including many pieces that revolved around Action painting.
Vilma Henkelman is among the most respected ceramists working in the Netherlands today and has received continuous praise for her warped, yet rugged designs. Henkelman was born in Rotterdam, but has established studios in several other cities around the country including Amsterdam and the Hague. Several of her pieces are housed within Princessehof Ceramics Museum’s collection in Leeuwaarden.
Over the past few decades, Wietske van Leeuwen has created many highly received collections of ceramics that employ natural elements to create baroque style compositions. Several major Dutch museums have purchased her work including the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and Princessehof Ceramics Museum.