THE TOOROP DYNASTY at the Stedelijk Museum, Alkmaar

Three Generations by Charlie Toorop

The most influential artist of the “Toorop Dynasty”, is Jan Toorop (1858 – 1928). This artist of Dutch-Indonesian descent, experimented in practically every style which developed between roughly 1860 – 1925. The exhibition contains early works, like a portrait of his wife Annie Hall, to later ones.

Jan Toorop’s paintings are exhibited next to works by his talented daughter Charlie Toorop (1891-1955) and works of her son, artist Edgar Fernhout (1912-1974). Curator Marjan van Heteren uses Charlie as a link between Jan Toorop and Edgar Fernhout.

One of the first works visitors come across, is by Charlie. It is her well-known portrait Three Generations (1941–1950), which welcomes visitors to this exhibition. It is a perfect example of Charlie’s distinct style: realistic with vivid colours, strong contrasts and distinct lines – but also full of symbolism.

Charlie seems to have been very self-assured and independent. She followed in her father’s footsteps, but unlike him, did not try out every new style. Instead, here are mostly works in her very own and highly recognizable style.

Jan Toorop’s marriage was difficult? His daughter’s was something of a disaster. Charlie was an artist first and foremost; wife and mother last. In the end, family members took in and took care of the children, with Jan Toorop helping Charlie financially as well.

Of the three generations, Charlie’s son Edgar faced the greatest challenges. Especially, with Charlie being a very critical, dominant and perhaps even stifling influence. Only after her death, does Edgar seem to have felt free to explore and develop as an artist in his own right, painting subjects which pleased him, in a style of his own.

Where Charlie painted people; Edgar seems to have preferred nature. He did paint an occasional portrait, but mostly to earn money. He painting landscapes and developed an abstract style. Some of his works, especially a seascape, seem an echo of works by his grandfather. Where Charlie uses bold, dark lines and contrasts colours creating realistic images, Edgar seems to prefer gentle colours and an abstract style.

An interesting exhibition, which not just traces family relationships and artistic influences. It also traces developments in Dutch art; from impressionism to realism to abstract art, from the late 19th century till the 1970s.   Kate   6th December 2019

The exhibition continues until 26th January 2020 at the Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar