Johannes Warnardus Bilders
Utrecht 1811 – 1890 Oosterbeek
Although Bilders’ own reputation as a landscape painter stayed relatively modest, he did have a key position within a group of young, influential artists. Constant Gabriël, Anton Mauve, Willem Roelofs and the Maris brothers much enjoyed visiting Bilders’ house. They were drawn to his colourful personality and his enthusiasm. He was a great storyteller and pointed out to the young painters the grand impressions nature left on him. He encouraged the youngsters to leave romantic painting traditions behind. And he told them to take in impressions from nature and to find their own way to portray this on canvas. The young men would later become the most important painters of the Hague School. Bilders was in this respect an important source of inspiration and Oosterbeek became an important village in the emergence of the Hague School. Comparable developments in painting had taken place in the French town of Barbizon and from 1860 Oosterbeek was sometimes called Dutch Barbizon.
The cheerful Bilders also had some tragedy in his life. In 1861 his first wife passed away. Four years later his son Gerard Bilders (1838-1865), who was also a painter, died and shortly afterwards it was his daughter Caroline. In 1880 his life took a new positive turn when he met Marie Philippina van Bosse. First she was his student and she would later become a close friend and eventually Bilders’ second wife.