Oil on canvas: 144,5 x 112,5 cm
signed lower right and painted 1906
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As the son of the famous landscape painter of the Hague School, Willem Roelofs (1822 – 1897), Albert Roelofs was exposed to art at a young age. After training at the art academies in The Hague and Brussels, he settled in The Hague in 1900 and married Elisabeth Françoise (‘Tjieke’) Bleckman there. In the first ten years of the 20th century he caused a sensation with paintings of elegant women and lovely children, painted in a rich, smoothly designed impressionist touch. His wife Tjieke and children Albertine, Giele and Roelof regularly served as models. Roelofs was also a gifted watercolourist.
The general public in the Netherlands initially had some difficulty with his outspoken style, which was relatively exuberant compared to that of his Dutch colleagues. This is not surprising given the fact that Roelofs grew up in Belgium and studied and worked in Brussels for a long time. The Belgian/French influence is visible in his work. Roelofs was immediately successful abroad. He himself said this in an interview: “It is strange how little my work is generally appreciated here [in the Netherlands]; especially in the past, now it’s starting to happen a bit. I still remember how I received a medal at an exhibition in Paris for a painting that was almost rejected at an exhibition here. And how a portrait, which had a very bad place in Arti, was written favourably in Figaro.”
Around 1910, Albert Roelofs became a renowned painter and, in addition to ‘free work’, he also sold commissioned portraits. He also had many students. One of these was Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, who found him a very stimulating teacher. Her daughter, Princess Juliana, continued to receive lessons from Tjieke for many years, both in painting and art history.
Despite his success and the fact that his paintings and watercolours sold well, Albert Roelofs remained very critical of his own work. It is typical of Roelofs that he did not settle for repetition of or variations on successful works. Although he was already a celebrated artist in the Netherlands at the age of 34, he decided to go to Paris, to start ‘over’ at the Académie Julian, as it were.
His enormous ambition and drive for innovation is characteristic of the character of Albert Roelofs. The combination of hard work and artistic talent has led to him mainly creating high-quality paintings and watercolours. However, due to his early death, at the age of only 43, his oeuvre remained relatively small. His work is mainly in private hands and only rarely comes onto the market. His work was especially popular among the Belgian Bourgeoisie.