He was born in Leeuwarden. His father was a prominent merchant. He had
several teachers: in Leeuwarden, he studied with the designer Hendik Schaaff
(1805–1850), in Amsterdam with the painter Jacobus Schoemaker Doyer, and
in Delft with the lithographer Willem Hendrik Schmidt (1809–1849). From 1848
to 1852, he studied at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, where his
instructor was Huib van Hove. From there, he went to Paris, where he took
lessons from Charles Gleyre.
In 1855, he established a studio in The Hague and exhibited widely, in the
Netherlands as well as France and England. He also had a showing at
the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Many of his interior scenes were
painted in the city of Hindeloopen, which is known for its preservation of
He was named a Ridder in the Order of the Oak Crown in 1863. Six years later,
in Kensington, he married Catharina Swift, who had been his student during visits
to England, and they settled in Scheveningen at a villa called “Frisia”. She would
later become a well-known painter, under the name Kate Bisschop-Swift.
He was a member of the Pulchri Studio and the Hollandsche
Teekenmaatschappij, of which his wife was one of the founders. He also took
numerous students, including Bernard Blommers, Karel Klinkenberg and his
nephew, Richard Bisschop.
He died in The Hague in 1904. Major retrospectives of his work were held in
1905, and in 2008 at the Scheveningen Museum [nl]. Many of his belongings were
transferred to the Fries Museum and, after Kate’s death in 1928, hers and the
remainder of his were taken there. The museum display includes a complete
reproduction of their workshop.
Notes on the art work
this subject, Rembrandt about to start working on his renowned painting “The
Anatomical Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp” (1632) is typical for the affinity and
fascination that was felt in Dutch society in the second half of the 19th century
for national history, and especially for the “Golden Age”, the 17th century.
Painters tried to achieve mastery of the “golden light” and the use of thick paint
for which some of the 17th century painters, and especially Rembrandt were
The renewed interest in history led to the opening of a “Historische Galerij”
within the organisation of the Amsterdam artist society “Arti et Amicitiae”.
In 1862 the first series was opened (national historic events of the 17th and 18th
century) and in 1864 a second series (various subjects of national importance).
The present painting was Bisschop’s contribution to the latter series.
It was an important example for his pupils, such as Klinkenberg (see Laanstra).
Especially in the treatment of the contrast between light and dark colours and in
the thickly applied paint used for the walls.
(Inscription in the door: (Theatrum Anatomicum Collegium Chirurgium, 1619,
Huc Tendimus omnes ( where we are all headed))
In 2008 a replica of this artwork was sold at Sotheby’s Auction House in
Amsterdam on October the 15th (Lot number 200, ill. on page 158 of the catalog).
As can be seen below the original work is of a higher quality, the superior use of
colour and the subtle difference in the lighting is clearly visible.
from a private Dutch collection; acquired by Douwes Fine Art in 2006; sold to private Dutch collection
-W. Laanstra, “Johannes Christiaan Karel Klinkenberg 1852 – 1924, de meester
van het zonnige stadsgezicht”, Laren 2000, p. 15 with ill.;
-published in an article about Arti in ‘Amstelodanum’, a historical magazine about
Amsterdam, by Drs. Remmelt Daalder (curator of the “Scheepvaart Museum
(Maritime Museum) in Amsterdam), 2005;
-J.N.Keeman, in an article for ‘Nederlands Tijdschrift voor de Geneeskunde’,
2006, 150 (50). p. 2738, with ill.