Pieter Hoogendijk Antiquairs
Jan Sluijters was long one of the most popular painters in the Netherlands.
His first artistic training was in ’s Hertogenbosch (1893–4), where his father Gijsbertus Antonius Sluijters (1847–1927) was a wood-engraver. In 1894 his family moved to Amsterdam, the city where Jan Sluijters was to spend the rest of his life. After taking his art teacher’s certificate (1900) he went to the Rijksacademie van Beeldende Kunsten.
In 1904 Jan Sluijters won the Prix de Rome, the most important Dutch art award. The prize consisted of a bursary that allowed him to study abroad for four years. However, the painting "Two Women Embracing" (1905), which Sluijters produced while in Paris, cost him this award. The jury members were so shocked when they saw the work that they refused to grant him the bursary for the remaining period. It was not only the subject of the painting, two women kissing each other, which caused a commotion: the garish colours and ‘coarse technique’ also made the committee shudder.
Visiting Paris in 1906 he became fascinated by modern art. Sluijters’s confrontation with the work of Neo-Impressionists, Fauvists and such painters as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Kees van Dongen resulted in sensational and dynamically modern work and made him a pioneer of modernism in the Netherlands. He and Mondriaan introduced new art styles from France; one of these was luminism. He assimilated the French influences into a divisionist style, characterized by an expressive use of bright dots, lines and blocks of colour corresponding to the artist’s personal view of the motif. The application of this technique, particularly in landscape paintings such as October Sun, Laren (1910; Haarlem, Frans Halsmuseum.), shows how strongly he admired the later work of Vincent van Gogh. It was this form of divisionism, of which the chief representatives were Sluijters, Piet Mondrian and Leo Gestel, that brought about the breakthrough for Amsterdam’s avant-garde painters in 1909 and that paved the way generally for the development of modern art in the Netherlands. The new French colour was used in even more concentrated form in a number of figure paintings from 1911, made up of larger planes with clearly defined outlines, for example Woman Reading (Eindhoven, Van Abbemus.).
Sluijters was one of the strong forces behind the Modern Kunstkring (modern art society), founded in 1911. He experimented with futurism and cubism. In the years after 1905 his work was considered controversial because the wild colours he used were strange to the public. Moreover, depictions of naked women caused regular exclusion of his paintings from exhibitions.
In addition to his experimental work, he also painted naturalistic portraits. From the twenties on it became popular to have your portrait done by Sluijters. Among the well known Dutch people he painted were Cardinal van Rossum, politician Wibaut, and entrepreneurs such as Willem Dreesmann and Philips. He was decorated several times, and in 1952 he was knighted in de Order of the Nederlandse Leeuw (a Dutch royal order).