Johannes Bosboom

Rouen, View of the lively old town
Circa 1837-1839
Oil on panel
Monogrammed lower left
Dimensions: 26.5 x 20.5cm
With frame: 42.5 x 36 cm
Price: 3500 €

Johannes Bosboom represents here a delicate view of Rouen. It can be dated between 1835 and 1839, a period during which he traveled to France. He painted the Quai de Paris in Rouen in 1839, a painting kept at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Emphasis is placed on the degree of detail specific to the Flemish school.

A lot of animation in the street, a hay cart in the foreground, a market with merchandise stalls. In the background, you can see the masts of the boats moored on the quays of the Seine. The key is free. His color palette is limited: the painter concentrates on drawing and above all, on light. A ray of sunlight illuminates the facade and darkens, by contrast, the lower part of the painting playing on a chiaroscuro.

Belgian painter and watercolourist. Coming from a family of Austrian nobility, his parents had to emigrate to Belgium before his birth for political reasons.

In 1831, Johannes Bosboom frequented the studio of Bartholomeus J. van Hove, painter of cityscapes from The Hague. At first, Bosboom helped his teacher create theater sets and cityscapes. Around the age of 20, he decided to concentrate on depicting church interiors. This decision determined his entire career, his work in this genre having to establish his reputation.

Subsequently, he wrote, he was influenced by the Romantic movement, in particular by Wijnand Johannes Josephus Nuyen. Although Nuyen’s influence is evident in his early work, he gradually abandoned romanticism for a more restrained treatment of his subjects.

After training in The Hague, Bosboom traveled to Germany, Belgium and France between 1835 and 1839 with fellow students Samuel Verveer and Cornelis Kruseman. In 1851 he married historical novelist Anna Louisa Geertruida Toussaint. Subsequently, he settled in the region and the village where he was born, Alkmaar.

Bosboom exhibited widely and received many honors during his life. It belongs to a long Dutch tradition of church interior painting established by Gerrit Houckgeest and Emanuel van Witte. He was seen, thanks to his freer watercolors and his vision of the fishing port of Scheveningen painted in the summer of 1873, as an influential painter on the younger generation of the Hague School.

After the death of his twin brother Nicolas in 1862, Bosboom experienced a period of mild depression. In 1876 he sojourned in the rural provinces of Groningen and Drente, where agricultural life and the local churches informed him. During the last ten years of his active life, he worked almost entirely in watercolour.

• Paris, The Louvre; Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum; The Hague Museum; Groningen Museum; Glasgow Museum; Hannover Museum of Fine Arts; Munich Museum; Montreal Museum.


Memoirs of Johannes Bosboom

• art. “Johannes Bosboom (1817 – 1891)”, Bénézit, Oxford Art Online