Borselen, Jan Willem van

Few painters have been able to capture the Dutch river landscape as accurately as Jan Willem van Borselen, who found inspiration mostly in the current ‘Groene Hart’ area: around Gouda, along the Hollandsche IJssel, the Gouwe and the Vlist rivers or in the area of Stompwijk and Zoetermeer. He painted the vast green landscapes with their river banks, reed fringes, white willow trees and sandy paths with farms. He often let a cool breeze blow through his tree tops, in such a way that the observer can almost feel the breeze.

Van Borselen built up his work in clear green and blue tints and was extremely skilled in composition and perspective. Characteristic of his landscapes are the diagonal lines and the stunning play of light from sun and shadows alternating with each other, which further enhance the effect of depth. He often filled in the picture with a few figures, cows along the bank or a little boat in the water. The brushwork of J.W. van Borselen was initially considerably fine, in emulation of his teacher Andreas Schelfhout. Later, when Impressionism made its entry into the Dutch art world, Van Borselen’s brushwork also became looser.

Although he would never become a ‘pur sang’ artist of the Hague School, Van Borselen did play an important role in the transition from Romantic art to the Hague School. In contrast to his predecessors, he tried to depict nature as realistically as possible, without frills or large-scale effects. In this way, Van Borselen showed himself as an innovator. His work was praised for its freshness, originality and naturalism. Van Borselen therefore received great appreciation for his work. He often took part in exhibitions in the Netherlands and abroad and received many awards. Van Borselen sold his work on a regular basis to important private collectors as well as to prestigious museums. His clients even included the Dutch Royal Family.

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