Schilder met zijn vrouw
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
In this canvas the Dutch artist Carel Willink shows himself together with his second wife Wilma Jeuken. They are standing on a terrace where there is a classical statue and from the terrace there is a view across a landscape. The scene has been painted very precisely and in great detail. The painter is shown holding a brush in one hand and a palette in the other. The characters and the statue on the terrace have clear shadows as though they are standing in bright light; the air is full of dark threatening clouds. Willink’s work is often included the school of Magical Realism.
The Magical Realists represented their subject with photographic accuracy. At the same time, they approached their theme from a distance and the works have an atmosphere of alienation. In the painting shown here, the artist and his wife are gazing into the distance, each in a different direction. Although they are standing close together, and the title shows that they have a close personal relationship, there is no contact between them at all. They look more like the statue behind them than like people of flesh and blood. The painter is depicted with his attributes of a brush and palette, but he is not wearing working clothes. The lighting of the scene also contributes to the strange atmosphere of the painting. Willink preferred to describe his work as “imaginary realism, the reality which has developed from the imagination.”
During a tour of Italy in 1931, Willink made a thorough study of the old Italian masters, amongst other things, in the Uffizi in Florence. His admiration for realistic art from the past is clear from his own detailed manner of painting which was not typical of the avant-garde circles in the 1930s. This preference is also revealed in his choice of subjects of landscapes, squares, ruins and statues. Willink explained: “Statues on terraces were created as elements of transience.” The statue and the terrace in 'Painter and his wife' reveal the traces of time. They have been weathered and are discoloured here and there, with cracks and crumbling. The threat of the Second World War and a general cultural pessimism are reflected in Willink’s threatening paintings from the 1930s.
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