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Art around 1900

Our museum has an extensive and diverse collection of art around 1900, including work by Chris Lebeau, Therese Schwartze and Julie de Graag.

The period around 1900 was marked by stormy developments in art and society. There was a strong sense of a ‘new age’, which called for a ‘new art’. The 40,000 objects in the Art around 1900 (1885-1935) collection tell stories about the dreams and ideals of people who chose to become artists at this time. Many of them did not limit themselves to the visual arts, but designed entire interiors, tableware, clothes or book bindings with the same ease.

A diverse collection

The diversity in the collection is huge, ranging from paintings and work on paper to ceramics, textiles, glass, metal and furniture. Our museum features work by more than 500 artists and factories. A special feature are the many painting materials, such as palettes, painting boxes, wood blocks, plaster casts and sketchbooks that allow you to get very close to the artist's working process.

Visual arts

At the end of the nineteenth century, a new generation of Dutch painters emerged. They found inspiration from French impressionists such as Claude Monet (1840-1926) and Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), who capture their environment with color and light. Dutch artists found different ways to express themselves. For instance, the ‘Tachtigers’ (‘Eightiers’) painted modern life in the city in quick brushstrokes, while the Symbolists used sweeping lines to capture a dream world. Still others, influenced by socialism, wanted to realise a new society in which all people are equal and make ‘community art’ that could be seen by everyone in public buildings.

Shift after the turn of the century

After the year 1900, other movements also entered the scene. For example, the Cubists who worked more towards abstraction and the 'wild' Fauvists with their even brighter colours. Yet many continued to cling to a traditional, figurative way of painting. Top pieces in our collection include Portrait of Sixta Heddema by Chris Lebeau (1878-1945), Woman with Sunflowers by Thérèse Schwartze (1851-1918) and Portrait of Tonia Stieltjes by Jan Sluijters (1881-1957).

Featured objects

  • Portrait of Sixta Heddema
  • Woman with sunflowers
  • Tonia Stieltjes

Applied arts

According to the European Arts and Crafts movement that emerged around 1890, beauty should permeate the daily lives of as many people as possible. In the Netherlands, these ideas came to life mainly through the English Arts & Crafts movement. The influence of Art Nouveau with its graceful lines came from France and Belgium around 1900. The Dutch variant of this movement, Nieuwe Kunst (‘New Art’), showed a sleek design that emphasised the construction rather than decoration. Artists wanted to keep their beautiful designs affordable so that everyone could buy them.

Impact of the war

After world war I, earlier ideals faded and designers started using expensive, exotic materials for designs with striking ornamentation: art deco or Amsterdam School. In the 1920s, functionalism emerged as a reaction to this: if the utensil is functional, it automatically becomes beautiful. The beauty is not in the decoration, but in the form. The austere designs fit the crisis of the 1930s.  Some masterpieces in this field are the Jewellery box  by Jan Eisenloeffel (1876-1957), Dish with bullheads and eels  by Johanna van Eijbergen (1865-1950) and Long-neck vase with Vertigo décor by Theo Colenbrander (1841-1930). 

Jewellery box with animal decor
Dish with bullheads and eels
Long-neck vase with Vertigo décor

History of the collection

How does a top collection of Dutch art from the period around 1900 end up in the Drents Museum? That is an extraordinary story. Around 1960, art from the period around 1900 - apart from a few big names like Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) and Piet Mondriaan (1872-1944) - was in danger of being forgotten. There was a growing realisation among children and relatives of artists that they need to take action to bring this art back into the limelight. They were also looking for a good use for their ancestors' legacy. They joined forces and founded the Stichting Schone Kunsten rond 1900 (SSK) (‘Foundation for Fine Arts around 1900’) in 1964.

Stichting Schone Kunsten rond 1900

From the 1970s onwards, the SSK foundation found housing for the collection at the Drents Museum, which received the art on loan. The descendants added more and more artworks to the SSK collection in the following years. The museum also started actively collecting and organising exhibitions. Chris Lebeau, Johanna van Eijbergen and Christine van Zeegen and her brother Janus van Zeegen have featured. In many cases, these have been the first retrospective exhibitions with accompanying publication on a particular artist. There have also been exhibitions that place the collection in an international perspective, such as The Glasgow Boys (2016), Peredvizhniki (2016-2017) and Sprezzatura (2019). In 2017, the entire SSK collection of some 20,000 objects was officially donated to the museum.  

Drents Museum De Buitenplaats

In 2024, Museum De Buitenplaats in Eelde continues as Drents Museum De Buitenplaats: the new Dutch museum for Art Nouveau. The Drents Museum's rich collection of visual and applied arts around 1900 forms the starting point for the programming. Both our own collection and loans from museums at home and abroad will be on display in the exhibition program in Eelde in the coming years. This museum with accompanying garden is located in a building designed by Alberts & Van Huut. The mutual influence of art and nature is central to the design and the building therefore fits seamlessly with the ideas of Art Nouveau. Forms from nature appear in all kinds of ways in the visual and applied arts around 1900.

Now till 15 September 2024

Christine and Janus van Zeegen

The Drents Museum presents the first retrospective exhibition about this wonderful artist couple from 30 March to 15 September 2024.