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.
The title figure is presented as a large presence in the painting 'The Cartwright' by the Dutch painter Herman Kruyder. His hands are in central place, literally in the middle of the painting, but also in terms of content because they are painted very large. Kruyder did not represent them with photographic accuracy but with rough brushstrokes, applying the paint thickly. The man’s face is distorted. He has a very low forehead, a large nose and his eye is in a strange place.
Kruyder’s work reveals “expressive exaggeration”. He emphasized some of the characteristics of his subjects so strongly that they are almost deformed and consequently the painting has great emotional depth. Kruyder’s work belongs to the Expressionist school. He had a strong personal involvement with his subjects and identified with the people and animals he painted. He regularly suffered serious psychological stress and there were periods of deep depression. In fact, the people and animals that he painted reflected his own psychological and emotional condition. The wagonmaker is like Kruyder himself: a man who exercises his profession with his hands and with the help of his materials, but at the same time a man with a distorted face, hemmed in between the wall behind him and his materials.
Kruyder’s paintings deal with subjects such as astonishment, fear and cruelty. In this respect his work is related to that of the German Expressionist group, “Die Brücke'”. In terms of the subject 'The Cartwright' corresponds more with Flemish Expressionism, which represents basic country life. Kruyder’s use of colour, particularly his preference for earthy colours and his use of paint as a paste, are reminiscent of the Flemish painter Constant Permeke. However Kruyder’s work is not concerned with the beauty or tragedy of everyday life of the simple man in general, it is about his own feelings and situation. The Van Abbemuseum has five preliminary studies of 'The Cartwright'. They show that Kruyder did not work compulsively but considered the composition carefully, looking for the correct composition.
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