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Amsterdam for Real: Paintings of George Breitner 1

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 04:30 AM PST

I can’t think why I hadn’t heard of George Hendrik Breitner (1857–1923). He was a major figure in painting in the Netherlands at the time, he painted with Vincent van Gogh, was an early adopter of photography as an aid to his painting, and an innovative photographer in his own right. In this and the next article, I will try to make amends by showing a small selection of his works, many of which are in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Breitner was born in Rotterdam in 1857, and was a brilliant student at the Art Academy in The Hague until he was expelled in 1880, for destroying the regulations board. Although at first associated with the Hague School of landscape art, he drew away from that and today is normally termed an Amsterdam Impressionist, a group which included Isaac Israëls and Jan Toorop.

After leaving the Academy in 1880, he went and worked on the vast panorama being painted in The Hague by Hendrik Mesdag, the Panorama Mesdag.

George Hendrik Breitner (1857–1923), Distribution of Soup (1882), watercolour, dimensions not known, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Wikimedia Commons.

In 1882, Breitner met Vincent van Gogh, and the pair went out sketching and painting in the poorer parts of The Hague. Among Breitner’s paintings of that campaign is his watercolour Distribution of Soup (1882), which tackles a similar theme to Christian Krohg’s last great Naturalist work The Struggle for Existence (1889).

This was the period when Vincent van Gogh was living with Sien Hoornik, an alcoholic prostitute, and her young daughter, after he had fallen out with Anton Mauve.

George Hendrik Breitner (1857–1923), Ground Porters with Carts (date not known), watercolour on paper, 67.5 × 93.4 cm, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Wikimedia Commons.

The undated Ground Porters with Carts is another of Breitner’s watercolour paintings showing the rough side of life at the time. He appears to have been influenced at this time by the Naturalist literature of Émile Zola, and felt that it was his task to depict the common people and their lives.

George Hendrik Breitner (1857–1923), Cavalry (1883-88), oil on canvas, 137 x 337 cm, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, The Netherlands. Wikimedia Commons.

During this time, he also painted several works showing military Cavalry (1883-88). I do not understand how they fitted with his Naturalism, but these works are both technically and artistically impressive, particularly for a painter so early in his career.

George Hendrik Breitner (1857–1923), The Wooden Shoes (1884-85), oil on canvas, 92.5 × 63.5 cm, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Wikimedia Commons.

Breitner also appears to have been influenced by Jules Bastien-Lepage and the French Naturalist interest in children living in poverty. This wonderful painting The Wooden Shoes (1884-85) show a young girl proudly displaying her new wooden clogs.

He chose his models from among the poorer in society not because he couldn’t afford to pay them, but because of his emphasis on painting common people. Among them, Marie Jordan (1866-1948) next became his partner, then the couple married.

George Hendrik Breitner (1857–1923), Marie Jordan Nude, Lying on the Bed (c 1888), photographic print, further details not known, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Wikimedia Commons.

This photographic print of Marie Jordan Nude, Lying on the Bed from about 1888 is one of a series which he made at about the same time that he was working on a painting of her.

George Hendrik Breitner (1857–1923), Reclining Nude (c 1887), media and dimensions not known, Centraal Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands. Wikimedia Commons.

Although conventionally dated to about 1887, there can be little doubt that Breitner’s Reclining Nude was based on that print.

His figurative painting, like his plein air landscape sketches, was rough in a style that anticipated the great figurative painters of the twentieth century. Although his motifs and themes were strongly Naturalist, his painting style was never the detailed realism normally considered to be associated with the Naturalist movement.

George Hendrik Breitner (1857–1923), An Evening on the Dam in Amsterdam (c 1890), oil on canvas, 96.3 × 180 cm, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium. Wikimedia Commons.

Breitner entered the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam in 1886, but by that time he had progressed well beyond anything which it could offer him. He went out onto the streets of Amsterdam sketching discreetly, as shown in An Evening on the Dam in Amsterdam (c 1890).

George Hendrik Breitner (1857–1923), Two Servants on an Amsterdam Bridge at Night (1890), oil on canvas, dimensions not known, Teylers Museum, Haarlem, The Netherlands. Image by Szilas, via Wikimedia Commons.

Two Servants on an Amsterdam Bridge at Night (1890) is another nocturne showing some of the people that he met on the streets.

George Hendrik Breitner (1857–1923), View of the Oosterpark in Amsterdam in the Snow (1892), oil on canvas, 70 × 122 cm, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Wikimedia Commons.

Through the 1890s, Breitner established his reputation with those atmospheric oil sketches, and some larger studio paintings such as this View of the Oosterpark in Amsterdam in the Snow from 1892.

George Hendrik Breitner (1857–1923), The Earring (c 1893), oil on canvas, 84.5 x 57.5 cm, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Wikimedia Commons.

Breitner was also an enthusiast for Japonism(e), which was most obvious in his figurative paintings like The Earring, from about 1893. His model was most probably one of his favourites, Geesje Kwak, who was to appear in some of his most important figurative work over the coming few years.

George Hendrik Breitner (1857–1923), Standing Nude (1893), oil on canvas, 75 × 162 cm, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium. Wikimedia Commons.

His Standing Nude (1893) is a variation on the same theme, less the Japonism(e), apparently painted against the same mirror in his studio, probably with the same model.

Managing versions has never been simpler: Revisionist 1.0b4 with Quick Look previews

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 11:30 PM PST

Here is a new beta-release of Revisionist, which now previews versions using Quick Look, and displays correct file size information for bundles, as well as regular document files: revisionist10b4
It’s also available from Downloads above.

There are two significant improvements in this version, which is now approaching its full feature-set for the first release.

The first is that it now shows meaningful and correct file sizes for documents which are stored as bundles, rather than just the nominal size of the enclosing folder. It does this simply by adding together the sizes of all the files which are included in the bundle folder. These are calculated in an identical fashion for the text report generated when you click the Save button.


The other change transforms Revisionist quite substantially. If you double-click on a version listed in the upper table view of the window, Revisionist will try to open that version in a Quick Look preview. This enables you to inspect and check which version(s) to remove, and to browse the contents of the versions without having to open the original app which created them.

My next step with Revisionist is to see if I can incorporate the file browsing functions from RevisionCrawler, to turn this a single app rather than two. If you have any other features which you’d like to see included, please suggest them as comments below.