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Charles Dankmeijer

Charles Dankmeijer (1861-1923) - Lyklema Fine Art

Charles Dankmeijer was born on the eighth of April, 1861, in Amsterdam. Even at a young age, he had an interest in painting. His first drawing lessons took place at the artistic society 'Felix Merites' in Amsterdam. In 1881, he went to Antwerp to study at the Antwerp Academy under the guidance of Professor Verlat. He painted extensively, including reproductions of classical sculptures, live models, and portraits. His works were appreciated, earning him the Prix d'Excellence in the class of large antique statues.

After his time in Antwerp, Dankmeijer moved to Amsterdam in 1882 to study at the Academy led by Professor Allebé. In 1886, he discovered the beauty of the village of Laren, where he met Anton Mauve. Mauve, known for immortalizing the lives of farmers and shepherds around Laren, provided guidance to Dankmeijer in his early works in the open air. However, Dankmeijer was not a true disciple, as Mauve was too impatient for such a commitment.

In 1889, Théophile de Bock encountered Charles Dankmeijer's work at an exhibition at Arti et Amicitiae in Amsterdam. Impressed, De Bock visited Dankmeijer's studio in Rustenburgerstraat and purchased several works. De Bock advised him to move to The Hague, known for its modern and pioneering Hague School. In 1890, Dankmeijer, along with De Bock, became one of the founders of the Haagse Kunstkring. This marked a change in Dankmeijer's work, characterized by a strong preference for vibrant colors, flat composition, and a more impressionistic style.

Dankmeijer's life took an irregular course due to his impulsive nature. In Renkum, he painted landscapes, river scenes, and cityscapes, composing according to his own vision. His early works reflected the style of the Hague School, while from 1890 onwards, traces of impressionism became evident in his art. Although his color palette became brighter, resembling that of Amsterdam impressionists, Dankmeijer never formally adhered to their theories. He focused on the practical aspect of painting, using short, rapid brushstrokes in a spontaneous and impulsive manner.

In 1912, Dankmeijer's work became calmer and less impulsive, retaining his originality. After residing in Renkum for five years, he moved to Oosterbeek in 1901, drawn by the allure of Zweiersdal. During this period, Dankmeijer achieved international success. In 1897, the President of the United States acquired one of his landscapes from the surroundings of Renkum, and in 1900, Dankmeijer received an Honorable Mention at the Paris World Exposition for his painting 'View of Doesburg.'

Farm in Laren; source Historical Circle Laren

To enhance his painting techniques, Dankmeijer embarked on a study trip to Italy in 1912, accompanied by the Rotterdam-based artist Anton Dirkxs. The sunny Italian landscape significantly influenced Dankmeijer's work, resulting in a calmer style upon his return to the Netherlands.

In 1902, De Bock moved to Haarlem, and Dankmeijer, feeling somewhat lonely in Renkum, established contact with the art dealer Zürcher through Willem Maris and moved to Leiden. His health deteriorated rapidly after a stroke, making painting increasingly challenging. In 1923, the painter passed away at the age of 61 in a hospital in The Hague.

The above blog is excerpted from the doctoral thesis of Femke Lyklema in 2000.


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