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Jacob Hendricus Maris (Dutch painter) 1837 - 1899

Jacob Maris, with his brothers Willem and Matthijs belonged to what has come to be known as the Hague School of painters. When he was twelve he took some art lessons and later enrolled in the Hague Academy of Art. An art dealer recognized his talent and saw to it that Jacob was able to work in the studio of Hubertus van Hove. There he painted interiors as well as figurative and genre works. Van Hove moved to Antwerp and the nineteen-year-old Maris went with him. This relationship continued until his brother Matthijs received a royal subsidy and joined Jacob. Together they rented space which also had room for their friend Lawrence Alma-Tadema. They took lessons at the Antwerp Academy and were able to sell some of their works. In 1857, Jacob Maris returned to the Hague, but Matthijs stayed another year in Antwerp before he again shared a studio with Jacob in The Hague. After they had earned enough money by copying eight royal portraits, they were able to go to Oosterbeek where they met Johannes Warnardus Bilders, his son Gerard, and others who later play important parts in the Hague School. The brothers also went on a study trip together to German, Switzerland and France. When their money was spent, they again moved in with their parents and Jacob took more lessons at the Hague Academy of Art. In the summer of 1864, Jacob again went to Oosterbeek and possibly to Fontainebleau and Barbizon. Following this trip he lived in Paris from 1865 till 1871, and then returned to Holland when the Franco-Prussian War broke out. In The Hague, he became a strong landscape painter painting rivers and landscapes with mills and towpaths, and beach views with fishing boats. His stroke became broader and larger and his use of color became more subdued and directed towards portraying the atmospheric depiction of clouds. This part of has been compared to the seventeenth-century painters Jan van Goyen, Jacob Van Ruisdael and Johannes Vermeer. His way of working has been described in the following way: They say that he paints first and draws only afterwards. He applies the paint thickly, builds it up, fiddles around and messes with it-all gradually developing a harmony of colors that establishes the major directions. Only then does he complete his figures with lively, thin brush strokes. But the final touch is done with a master stroke, and in the end the entire work is as solid as the tightest drawing. Also, M. Philippe Zilcken said, No painter has so well expressed the ethereal effects, bathed in air and light through floating silvery mist, in which painters delight, and the characteristic remote horizons blurred by haze; or again, the grey yet luminous weather of Holland, unlike the dead grey rain of England or the heavy sky of Paris. In 1871, Maris became a member of the Pulchri Studio and would fill various administrative positions there. It was only after 1876 that he experienced any renown in the Netherlands and from 1885 on he was a celebrated painter. As a leader of the Hague School his influence was enormous. Nevertheless, Willem de Zwart and possibly Bernard Blommers had been his only students. When he was in his sixties, Maris began to suffer from asthma and corpulence. At the advice of his doctors he went to take the waters at Karlsbad, where he suddenly died on 7 August 1899. He was buried in The Hague. * * * Matthijs Maris (Dutch painter) 1839 - 1917 Painter and graphic artist Matthijs Maris, who like his brothers Jacob and Willem, can be called a representative of Impressionism of the Hague School. In 1869 he went to Paris to join living with his brother Jacob. In 1871 Jacob went back to the Netherlands. Thijs remained in Paris, where Van Gogh in vain came to ask him for painting classes. In 1877 he moved to London, at the request of an art dealer. * * * Willem Maris (Dutch landscape painter of the Hague School) 1844 - 1910 Willem was the third in a family of five children. His two brothers Jacob and Matthijs Maris preceded him as painters. In literature he is often characterized as a self-taught man, and Maris described his early study years as follows: "From the time I was young I worked outdoors. Even before I was twelve I would sit in the meadow and watch the cows before and after school. As my brothers were older than me, naturally I got part of my training from them, and in the winters I went to the Academy of Art, where I often drew from plaster models and also often practiced drawing in perspective. In the summer I always studied outdoors, and in the winter in the stable." Maris also received advice from the cattle painter Pieter Stortenbeker, who gave him work to copy. In 1862, Maris made his debut with Cows on the Heath, which may have been painted in Oosterbeek, which he visited for the first time that year. It was in Oosterbeek that he met Gerard Bilders and Anton Mauve. Maris would write about his legendary meeting with Mauve: a couple of days afterwards I was sitting somewhere and painting-when one of these braggarts came up behind me. Well, hey, when you're young, you don't think that's very nice. And suddenly the guy throws his arms around me and roars: 'I sit here all day long plodding away with a pencil -scratching and scratching-and you get it right away!' It was ... Mauve. They would remain good friends for the rest of their lives. In 1863, the Mauve family moved and set a studio where all the three brothers could work. As his brothers had done before him, Willem also took a trip along the Rhine. Later he shared a studio with Bernard Blommers, and Matthijs Maris and Anton Mauve could often be found there. In the Mauritshuis, Willem copied the works of Paulus Potter, a seventeenth century cattle painter who also inspired Gerard Bilders, Johan Hendrik Weissenbruch and the Barbizon painters. Willem's painting career progressed regularly and he maintained a steady production. For his entire life he remained true to the subjects he had chosen in his youth: meadow landscapes with willows and ditches, cows or calves in a meadow, by a river or pond, and later ducks and chickens. His paintings and watercolors are best known for his emphasis on light. Maris' often cited motto was: "I don't paint cows, but rather effects of light." His early work in particular often contained a cool, cloudy atmosphere. Someone wrote: " In those days, the young painter had a pronounced preference for shrouds of mist, which is quite peculiar. On several occasions he angrily broke off his study trips as soon as the sun and wind had chased away the early morning mist." Three major phases can be distinguished in his work. The first works were characterized by an exact reproduction of the surroundings. Maris was still finding his way in the anatomical portrayal of cattle. In the second phase he had completely mastered this and his use of color became more definite. The meadows and trees are painted in gradations of saturated shades of green. Around 1880, he began to use broader strokes, combining this with impasto. Yet these works have an intimate atmosphere. His lively use of color distinguished Maris from the 'gray mood' of his contemporaries, and he was often called the 'impressionist' of the Hague School. Maris wrote that he never had any students, but about 1880, George Hendrik Breitner must have studied with him. He also taught his son, Simon Willem and certainly influenced others. When Maris was in his sixties, he often seemed tired of life. He went to Karlsbad a few times to take the waters, as his brother Jacob had done. On 10 October he died in The Hague. * * * Simon Willem Maris (Dutch painter) 1873 - 1935 Simon was the son and the student of Willem Maris. 


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