Lesson 25: The Laren School

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What You Will Learn:

  • Explore All Art Movements and Periods

    You will learn about all the leading art movements and periods, such as primitive art, ancient Greek art, the Renaissance, Romanticism, Impressionism, Modernism, and contemporary art. There is also a lot of attention to non-Western art, such as Islamic Art, Hindu Art, Chinese Art, Oceanic Art and African Art, and the globalization of the art world.

  • All Famous Artists and Their Masterpieces

    The course covers important artists like Sultan Muhammad, Fan Kuan, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Utagawa Hiroshige, Vincent van Gogh, Ilya Repin, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Banksy and many more, and discusses their most influential works.

  • Cultural and Historical Context

    Our courses also focus on the study of the cultural, social, political, and economic contexts in which artworks are created.

  • Various Media and Techniques

    You will explore different art forms and techniques, such as painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and digital art.

Introduction to this course:


First, it was mostly painters who let their beards grow and set out accompanied by their easel to capture a bit of nature here or there. Soon there were also poets, who like to think of themselves as less asinine, and who, to reinforce this notion with jumbled discussions – from which little more than an ashtray full of cigarette butts remained – were all too willing to glorify that grand nature in the small village pub.”                                                 
             Adriaan Roland Holst, 1957

Grietje Pieterse, van de kunstschilder Evert Pieterse uit 1918.Image: A portrait of Grietje Rokebrand, painted in the Dutch village Blaricum by Evert Pieters (1856-1932). He painted this portrait of Grietje just before she died of the Spanish flu in 1918, just like her sister Pietje. Evert Pieters gifted this painting to my grandfather Klaas Rokebrand and my grandmother Gijsje Rokebrand-Heerschop, the parents of Grietje and Pietje.
Location: This painting is in the possession of the Rokebrand family. It is not signed. ©Ronnie Rokebrand.

Actually, this art movement does not directly belong in this course. However I, Ronnie Rokebrand, the writer and compiler of this course, was born in the Dutch village of Blaricum. In this village and the nearby village of Laren, the Laren School developed.
In many countries around the world, you saw followers of Impressionism who gave their own Impressionistic expression to the world they lived in. Thus, numerous locally bound art movements emerged, including the Laren School. In this sense, the Laren School symbolizes all those other art movements that developed globally at a local and regional level towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. They gave the landscape and the people living in it their own face in their paintings.

At the end of the 19th century, around 1870, Jozef Israëls, accompanied by his painter son Isaac, visited the Dutch village Laren in the Gooi region. He was surprised by the beauty of the landscape and the authenticity of the residents’ lives. Upon returning to The Hague, he enthusiastically informed his friends and fellow painters Anton Mauve and Albert Neuhuys who quickly headed to the Gooi to witness this world with their own eyes. Not much later, other painters followed, including Hein Kever, Willem Steelink Jr., Hendrik Valkenburg, Wally Moes, W.G.F. Jansen, Etha Fles, Arina Hugenholtz, Willem Knip (also known as W.A. Knip), and Tony Offermans.

Kerkuitgang te laren, een aquarel van Arina Hugenholtz. Het kunstwerk is in het bezit van het Singer Museum in Laren.Image: Church Exit in Laren, by the painter Arina Hugenholtz. The painting is undated, so for the date of origin, we assume a broad period from 1894 to 1934. In this watercolor, we see the farming community leaving the church in Laren. Strands of clouds are visible in front of the low-hanging sun. The farming community disperses over the village green, dressed heavily against the freezing cold. The leafless trees sharply contrast against the icy winter sky. Between the trees, the muted light from the entrance door and a few windows of the house of worship radiates. Besides watercolor, Hugenholtz also used chalk in this piece. In the choice of colors, one can see the influence of Anton Mauve, a good friend of her father who encouraged Arina to live and work in Laren.
Location: Anna Singer purchased this watercolor directly from her friend Arina Hugenholtz. To this day, it remains in the possession of the Singer Museum. The Singer Museum is housed in the Wilde Zwanen, the former home of Anna and William Henry Singer, located at Drift 1 in Laren in the Netherlands.

The newly arrived painters were so impressed with this ‘left-behind’ area, situated between the moors and the coast of the Zuiderzee, that they built homes here to live. The staff asked for little salary, and the building costs were low thanks to the solid sandy soils. In the sandy soils, there was no need to drive piles into the ground for a good foundation for the houses, and the land was dirt cheap. Here, they could easily set out with their painting easels. They now lived in an authentic and varied landscape. On one side of Laren and the neighboring Blaricum, where many painters also settled, were the forests, moors, and meadows; on the other side were the pastures with cows, the Zuiderzee coast, and the mouth of the Eem river. That’s why the Eem river often reappeared as a subject in their compositions, including in the work of painter Cornelis Vreedenburgh (1880-1946). The Dutch queen Wilhelmina was one of his admirers and owned two of his paintings.

Schepen aan de oever van de rivier de Eem, van de kunstschilder Cornelis Vreedenburgh. Het schilderij is in particulier bezit.Image: Ships on the banks of the Eem river. A painting by the artist Cornelis Vreedenburgh. Along with his friend Willem Bastiaan Tholen (1860-1931), he enjoyed painting water landscapes, such as lakes and rivers.
Location: This painting by Cornelis Vreedenburgh is in private ownership. Photo: Ronnie Rokebrand.

In the villages, there were thatched-roofed farmhouses with inhabitants who had lived in the same manner for centuries and had little contact with the outside world. The reed for the roofs could be cut for free from the banks of the Zuiderzee. In those days, the affluent residents of Blaricum and Laren had their roofs covered with baked and durable roof tiles, while the less fortunate inhabitants thatched their roofs.

Druk bezig van de schilder Albert Neuhuys
Image: “Busy at Work”, a Laren interior by the painter Albert Neuhuys, a prominent member of the Laren School. The artwork was created sometime between 1872 and 1892. The Laren School gained particular recognition in the Netherlands thanks to the work of the painter Albert Neuhuys.
Location: This painting is in the possession of the National Galleries of Scotland. They manage the three largest museums in Scotland. All three can be found in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.

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