Bart van der Leck (1876-1958)

Bart van der Leck (1876-1958)

Bart van der Leck (Utrecht 1876 – 1958 Blaricum)

Figure Studies, Jordaan, Amsterdam

Pencil on greyish paper, 260 x 167 mm (10.2 x 6.6 inch)

Inscribed ‘29’ in blue ink (recto, top right); verso, the estate stamp in blue ink ‘ESTATE / B. v.d. LECK / No. 278’ (the number handwritten in blue ink) (bottom left)

The artist’s estate (with the associated stamp), Blaricum, inv. no. 278


Bart van der Leck is one of the key figures of Dutch modernism. Van der Leck founded the ‘De Stijl’ movement with Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondriaan in 1917, and along with Mondriaan produced the first purely abstract paintings in the Netherlands. Contrary to Mondriaan, Van der Leck’s abstract geometrical paintings always remained closely based on representational images, which caused a dispute between the two artists which led to the break-up of the movement.

The present drawing pre-dates the ‘Stijl’ work, and was created around 1906, when Van der Leck was based in Amsterdam. The strong delineation of the figures - working class men and gentrified ladies frequenting the streets of the Jordaan area in Amsterdam – shows the influence of both G.H. Breitner (1857-1923) and Isaac Israels (1865-1934), two leading painters of the time. At the same time the clear geometric forms in which Van der Leck defines the figures in the sheet seem to foreshadow his later abstract work. The year 1906 was an important one for Van der Leck, as his work was exhibited for the first time, in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.1

Works by Bart van der Leck are represented in all major museums of modern art, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Tate Gallery, London and the Kröller-Müller Museum, Apeldoorn.


1. See R.W.D. Oxenaar, Bart van der Leek tot 1920. Een primitief van de nieuwe tijd, Utrecht/The Hague 1976, passim.

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Bart van der Leck (1876-1958)
Bart van der Leck (1876-1958)
Bart van der Leck (1876-1958)
Bart van der Leck (1876-1958)
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