Pulchri Studio

Pulchri Studio facade.
Exhibition of sculpture by Mexican artist Abel Ramírez Águilar.

Pulchri Studio (Latin:"For the study of beauty") is a Dutch art society, art institution and art studio based in The Hague ('s-Gravenhage), Netherlands.[1]

This institute began in 1847 at the home of painter Lambertus Hardenberg. Since 1893 the club has its residence in the white villa at Lange Voorhout 15 in The Hague. There are accepted as members artistically working members (painters, sculptors and photographers) and art lovers. The members will be selected from a given by the general committee.

An artist membership allows to exhibit his own works in the galleries of the Company. These so-called sales exhibitions have passed since the founding of the association until today integral part of this institution! Art lovers have to be invited by other members. The association leases its properties even to nonmembers, too.


Paul Gabriël: Windmill in a pond.

The unspoilt countryside around even the rich coastal town of The Hague[2] with its rural environment and the unspoiled landscape and nature and the nearby fishing village of Scheveningen attracted many young artists.[3] The artists wanted to be far away from the state-run requirements of art (neo-classicism) and liked to decide their own way. The model was the successful artist colony of Barbizon south of Paris in the forest of Fontainebleau. The unaltered life of the people and the unspoilt polders and the North Sea coast played an important role. They wanted to be far away from the beginning in the Netherlands industrialisation in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.


Exhibition with a view to the entrance.

Following the abolition of the patronage for artist they were searching for a new way. The city of 's-Gravenhage (The Hague) with its surroundings and the coastal landscape of the North Sea at Scheveningen became attractive for young painters. In 1847 with the establishment of the association Pulchri Studio such a new approach has been emerged. These artist's association is a typical Dutch development.[4] It stands in the continuation of the tradition of the old academies of the 17th and 18th centuries.[5][6][7] A special role has played gatherings, which were called art considerations (Kunstbeschouwingen). They offered the artists the opportunity to present their own works the other members and to exchange information with the other painters. This way of handling the works creators as an Apprentice with other artists as Master has been the guarantee of the success of the Hague School.[8] The location served as a studio and workshop. Right at the beginning this cooperative had no exhibition rooms. Alternatively the painters participated in the two or three-yearly Exhibition of Living Masters.[9][10] – In 1882, Vincent van Gogh participated in such an art appreciation along with Bosboom and Henkes. The location had the function of the social contact to the native population. It wasn't only a place of social encounter, but at the same time it offered to the artists the opportunity to communicate with collectors and dealers. – This was very important.

Among the founding members of Pulchri has been Lambertus Hardenberg, Willem Roelofs, Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch and Bartholomeus Johannes van Hove. In 1847, Van Hove has been the first chairman of the artists association. Short time later King Willem II. took over the patronage.[11] A short time later Johannes Bosboom, Jozef Israels, Hendrik Willem Mesdag, Jan Weissenbruch and some lesser-known artists joined Pulchri. Subsequent significant members are also Jan Sluyters, Paul Citroen and Willy Sluiter.

Many painters, who are today attributed to the Hague School, had position on the board and made this cooperative to a stronghold: Bosboom was chairman from 1852 to 1853, Israëls from 1875–1878 and Mesdag from 1898–1907. But even Jacob Maris and Willem Maris, Anton Mauve, Roelofs and Jan Weissenbruch were members of the executive committee. They were responsible for the drawing room, the art considerations or the social meetings.

The growing membership forced the organizers to expand and in 1901 it was moved to the building on the Lange Voorhout 15.

In 2004, a number of works from Pulchri were stolen, later recovered in 2007.[12]

The two rival cooperatives

Théophile de Bock (1895/1905): A town on the river Vecht – private collection.

During its turbulent history were attempts at secession or counter companies. None of them should never attain the importance of Pulchri Studion. But this is an indication that politics of these cooperative is not always met with broad approval. One of these countermovements is the Haagse Kunstkring. In 1891 this cooperative was created by the painter Théophile de Bock and the architect Paul du Rieu.[13] It has remained until now and has been awarded to its centenary with the medal of the city of The Hague.

In The Hague in the year 1884 a smaller Artists Association – Arti et Industriae was established. Their aim is to promote Dutch art craft and has a pension fund, too. From the beginning it is more oriented towards the subject to industry and industrial progress. So it has a completely different orientation than the Hague School with her Pulchri Studio, which wanted to immortalize the untouched nature and the genuine life in the country, the podern and on the coast. – Thus it should never attain the significance and charisma as Pulchri Studio. Arti et Industriae had set oneself the goal of contact and coordination. They organizes exhibitions, too. However, their existence was secured by the proximity to the seat of government.

Pulchri Studio and the Art Academy

From the Hague School and the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague went a favorable effect on the development of the artists association Pulchri Studio. This society took over the function for the promotion of the fine arts. In this environment were excellent teachers and students.[14] The place of The Hague and its surroundings was and is important because of the seat of the government. At the Art Academy Blosboom, Willem Maris, Johan Hendrik Weissenbruch and Georg Breitner were also trained.

Pulchri Studio and the Hollandsche Teekenmaatschappij

The cooperative of Pulchri Studio was open to new technics in painting in the fine art. This resulted in the panel painting to another movement within the Dutch Impressionism, the Hague School.

In Brussels in the year 1855 the Society for watercolour-painting, the "Société Belge des watercolorist" was founded.[15][16] She was quite successful. This movement was an expression of social and country-specific implementation of the very successful work of The Royal Watercolour Society to London. Precisely because of the contacts with the environment of the "Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles", the watercolours were attractive again as a version of the painting for artists. Indeed, this watercolour technique had reached their third heyday from the end of the 19th century to the early 20th century.[17][18]

On 31 January 1878 the Hollandsche Teekenmaatschappij (in English: Dutch Drawing Society) was founded. Its founding members belonged to the core of the Hague School – the movement of the Dutch Impressionism and thus the Pulchri Studio. The society was so organized that it was independent, but closely linked to Pulchri Studio remained. Its honorary members included painters from Belgium, Germany and Italy.

In 1901, this society ceased to exist.

Policy and Pulchri Studio

The Society Pulchri wasn't as conservative as Arti et Amicitiae to Amsterdam. Yes, they even rejected the traditional painting styles.

In the royal capital of 's-Gravenhage (The Hague) his caused an uproar and a political issue, too. By the king Willem III Hermanus Koekkoek had received a medal in recognition of a work. From Pulchri came the objection that this painting would no longer correspond to the current state of the art.[19] – In public, the Hague School took the opposite position and stood against the official art policy of the Dutch king. This was notably represented by Artzt, de Bock, Bosboom, Israëls, Jacob and Willem Maris, Mauve, Mesdag and Neuhuys.

In addition they made known that neither one may send them a tender for an art competition nor they will take part in a competition any more.[20] [21]

In the circles that represented the new, radical painting style of impressionism or were only open, it was believed to have triggered something. In those days the queen tried to calm things down by their commitment to Pulchi. There was a no significant change in the policy of the king. – The disappointment was very big and they had to choose their own way.[22]

List of the important Members of the nineteenth century

Louis Apol: Winter landscape with sunset between trees (Rijksmuseum).
Johannes Joseph Destree: Beach of Scheveningen (1871)
Taco Mesdag: Molentje Leende (1880)

Gallery of the famous members of the studio in the 19th century

Revival after the war

After the Second World War was Pulchri Studio in disrepute: In 1943, the executive committee had submitted the order from Berlin to join the Reich-Chamber of Culture (Reichskulturkammer). In the Kingdom of the Netherlands this act was regarded as an act of collaboration. – After 1945 the chairman at that time, Willy Sluiter, was dismissed. In 1996 Queen Beatrix just took the patronage of this artists association and helped her back to the traditional reputation and importance in the art scene of The Hague and the Netherlands.

Some more recent notable members from the twentieth century


  1. Sillevis, John (1993). Dutch Drawings from the Age of Van Gogh: From the Collection of the Haags Gemeentemuseum. Premier Book Marketing Ltd. p. 11. ISBN 0-915577-24-0.
  2. At that time was The Hague was considered the most beautiful village in Europe.
  3. The small spots like Loosduinen, Voorburg and Wassenaar were quite popular because of their virginity.
  4. In the Netherlands the concept of societät or cooperative was practised. They are known as the guild of Sin Lucas, which was for the Painters. At the end of the eighteenth century they discontonued.
  5. The old academy has nothing in common with the new one.
  6. Since the rule of Napoleon these academies were completely under state control and the local teaching conception. And these new cooperatives meant the outbreak of these artists, linked to the freedom of genre and color palette. They wanted to determine the expressiveness of the colors by themselves.
  7. Pulchri Studio developed for the resident artists' colonies of The Hague, Laren and the estate Oosterbeek the center and was also the linking of creativity, the contact with each other and the world outside, too.
  8. The Hague School ultimately became synonymous with the famous Dutch Impressionism. The Amsterdam Impressionism, as School of Allebé references, was ultimately the continuation of this trend.
  9. This exhibition had been a touring exhibition.
  10. This exhibition at the Kindom of the united Netherlands was very important. She was the only way for the still unknown painters to be become known at all in the home.
  11. This attached particular importance to the location seat of the government and the king.
  12. Cirque de Pepin. "H.M.S. is back". OKT 2007. Cirque.nl. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  13. Haagse Kunstkring means loosely translated: The Hague Art Circle.
  14. In 1682, this Academy was initially founded as a school of art and it is the oldest art school of the Netherlands, too. Through a private initiative, it has been established.
  15. RKD Netherlands Institute for Art History
  16. Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles
  17. An important influence came from August Macke and Paul Klee. During their tunisian travel in 1914 they had chosen this painting technique in watercolours. The artists wanted to show the very bright luminous intensity over there.
  18. Kandisky from the expressionist community Blue Rider from Munich also took care of the watercolour painting. As part of the art movement of avant-garde he led the watercolour painting to a new meaning.
  19. In this context, the chapter A world of light, P. 7 – 32, Impressionism, an international art movement from 1860 to 1920 referred by Norma Broude is very informative. Here it can be seen how much the conflict was between the shaking off the neoclassicism and romanticism and the retention of the tradition of craft and the old ways. – The landscape painting of "The 1. Golden Age of the Netherlands" is precisely that tradition, which was rejected by them.
  20. One relied on the strength of Puchri Studion and her reputation in the country and abroad.
  21. Bley, Britta: Vom Staat zur Nation (in German) – From the state to the nation, page 124-125.
  22. The existence of Pulchri today and the very well known Museum Mesdag was the best proof.
  23. Georg Hendrik Breitener was the forerunner of the Amsterdam Impressionism as part of the international movement of impressionism. He was a painter of panel painting and a pioneer of photography. He left about 2.000 negatives.


External links

Coordinates: 52°04′55″N 4°18′43″E / 52.08194°N 4.31194°E / 52.08194; 4.31194

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