Théophile Emile Achille de Bock
The Hague 1851 – 1904 Haarlem
Théophile de Bock worked very hard, as long as the work was related to drawing and painting. He got fired from the Hollandse IJzeren Spoorwegmaatschappij [Dutch Iron Railway Company] because he spent more time painting than performing his actual duties. His final request for a three month season ticket, because ‘he was just working on something along the tracks’ was, alas, denied. He therefore decided to focus completely on art.
In 1869 he moved to The Hague, where Jan Willem van Borselen became his first tutor. But he was most influenced by the famous landscape painter J.H.Weissenbruch. From 1877 to 1881 he rented a studio in Huize Rozenburg in The Hague, together with fellow-artists Tony Offermans and Jozef Neuhuys. De Bock became also friends with Jacob Maris, whom he greatly admired and from whom he received valuable opinions. Hereupon Théophile de Bock started making landscapes, dunes and forests in the prevailing manner of the Dutch Hague School.
As recommended by Jacob Maris, De Bock made multiple study trips to France. He visited Paris and joined the artists’ colony of Barbizon near the forest of Fontainebleau between 1878 and 1880. These painters, forefunners of the impressonists, painted en plein air (outdoors) and persued the highest form of naturalism and realism in art. Often they painted in firm, expressive brush strokes. De Bock was also greatly inspired by the soft and subtle colours of Camille Corot.
Back in The Hague in 1881, he met Vincent van Gogh and the two soon became friends. Van Gogh greatly admired the paintings of The Bock and in letters to his brother Theo, Van Gogh praised De Bock’s artistic abilities, althought he took pity in his lack of attention to figuration.
Because of his sympathetic character and his organisation skills, De Bock was a welcome guest in the art scene of The Hague. His was a member of several artists’societies, like Arti et Amicitiae in Amsterdam and the Hollandsche Teekenmaatschappij [Dutch Drawing Society]. He was also founder of the Haagse Kunstkring [The Hague Art Circle], who wanted to give avant-garde artists a chance to exhibit their work. The refusal of Van Gogh’s work at Pulchi Studio was said the be the direct reason. De Bock spoke up for the great master, who passed away the year before, and took the initiative to the foundation of The Haagse Kunstkring. The initiative quickly proved popular and the exhibitions were well-attended.
De Bock’s paintings sold excellently and not only domestically. Many of his forest views and wooded landscapes went to England, the United States and Canada. He received multiple medals at international exhibitions in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris and Munich. Furthermore, he also asked by Hendrik Willem Mesdag to paint parts of the sky and the dunes in his large panorama project.
Due to his deteriorating health De Bock moved with his family to Renkum, near the forest of the Veluwe. He had a studio at the orangery of Doorwerth Castle. He painting production grew rapidly and with great success. He was also involved in many local art initiatives. In 1902 De Bock became Officer in the Order of Orange-Naussau.