Jan Toorop

In the year 1929 Charley Toorop donated the written estate of her father to the Koninklijke Bibliotheek. It is a predominantly documentary collection: besides correspondence it consists mostly of books and articles about the painter and his oeuvre, and samples and plates of his binding designs and book illustrations. The collection has steadily grown since 1929. An unusual acquisition was presented to the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in 1947 by Ms W.M.C. Janssen (1890-1953): a small, delicately drawn symbolist portrait of a young woman, coloured in chalk with sparing use of colours. It gives the impression of being a trial sketch - an impression that is strengthened by the framework around the drawing - as if Toorop intended to use that part also for another occasion. Although it does not have a date, comparison with other drawings definitely point to about 1912. In that year the painter and writer Miek Janssen, who lived in Oosterbeek, paid a visit to Toorop's studio in Nijmegen and this proved the start of a close, though somewhat controversial friendship that was to continue until his death in 1928. It was, certainly in the beginning, a master-pupil relationship, as is also apparent from the back of the drawing that he must have sent her in 1912, or shortly after. For this drawing was part of a parcel also containing Toorop's copy of P.C. Boutens's Carmina (1912), and his added comment makes it very clear that this was not only included ‘for entertainment’. Toorop's involvement was not restricted to commenting on her paintings and literary work; he was also greatly inspired by her, and made the illustrations and binding designs for her collections of poetry Aan den einder *(1915) *Aan den bron (1916), Schaduw van den toren (1918) and her play *De Wroeging * (1922). He also added a striking portrait of her as the frontispiece for Aan den einder. And this was not the only time that he immortalized her in his work. In 1913 and 1914 he made two striking portrait studies of her, she occupied a central position in the different versions of ‘La Belgique sanglante’ of 1914, and was probably the model for ‘Het heilige schreed’ in that same year.

Portrait of a woman. Jan Toorop (1858-1928). S.l., [ca. 1912]. Pencil and crayon on paper. - TC D 64

Portrait of a woman.Jan Toorop (1858-1928). S.l., [ca. 1912]. Pencil and crayon on paper. - TC D 64

Literature

Jan Toorop. De Nijmeegse jaren 1908-1916. [Nijmegen] 1978, p. 190
A.H. Huussen jr., 'Jan Toorop en de dichteres-schilderes Miek Janssen', in: Juffrouw Ida 12 (1986), no. 1, p. 1-39, afb. op p. 20
V. Hefting. Jan Toorop. Een kennismaking. Amsterdam 1989.