Art Kaleidoscope

Between art and craft

Dutch painter Jan Mankes

Self-portrait with owl. 1911. Dutch painter Jan Mankes

Self-portrait with owl. 1911. Dutch painter Jan Mankes

Dutch painter Jan Mankes (15 August 1889 – 23 April 1920, Eerbeek) for his short life (he died of tuberculosis at the age of 30) has created a priceless collection of 200 paintings, 100 drawings and 50 prints. Jan Mankes led a quiet life in a self-chosen isolation in De Knipe, Friesland, far from the cultural capitals of Europe. The talented artist had a reputation as an ascetic. His paintings included self-portraits, landscapes, flora and fauna studies. Artworks of Dutch artist Jan Mankes are mostly exhibited in the Scheringa Museum of Realism, the Museum of Modern Art Arnhem and Museum Belvedere Heerenveen, in his native Netherlands.

Bird's Nest with birch trunk. Dutch painter Jan Mankes

Bird’s Nest with birch trunk. Dutch painter Jan Mankes

Jan was born in the family of tax inspector. In 1902 he went to high school in Meppel, but in the next 1903 his father received a new assignment, and the family moved to Delft. In 1904 Mankes studies at artist Jan Schouten’s workshop in Delft. In his spare time he learns the art of stained glass at Hermanus Veldhuis’ (1878-1954) workshop, and serves as an assistant in his work. There is evidence that Mankes participated in the restoration of stained glass in St. John’s Church in Gouda.

In addition, the young artist attends evening classes at the Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague. In the vicinity of The Hague Jan Mankes draws birds and nests in the dunes.

On Sundays, he often escapes from Delft to The Hague, where he studied the museum’s collection of Maurits House (Mauritshuis). Huge impression on the young man made ​​paintings by Dutch masters of the 17th century Vermeer and Carel Fabritius, he also admired the work of German artist of the 16th century Hans Holbein.

On the advice of his friend, engraver and lithographer Antoine van Derktsen Angers (1878-1961), who lived in Delft, and to whom Jan Mankes showed his first paintings, Jan at age 18 leaves glassworks and decides to devote his life to the artist’s career.

In 1912 Mankes got acquainted with the work of the great Japanese artist Hokusai, which had a great impression on him and influenced his work. Mankes even became interested in woodcuts.

September 30, 1915 Jan married Anna Zernike, who came to preach in Bovenknipe. Annie Zernike was a progressive woman, the country’s first female minister with a doctoral degree. Her portrait, painted by Mankes in 1911, is in the collection of the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden. For some time the young family lived in The Hague.

Around the same time, the artist learned that he had tuberculosis, so, in 1916 the family moved to the woodland of Eerbek, which could be useful for the health of the artist. Before this Mankes lived three months in the town of Nunspeet.

In 1918, the family had a son Beynt, named after his grandfather. By this time Jan was so sick that most of the time stayed in bed. Eighteen months later he passed away. The artist was only 30 years old. Mankes died April 23, 1920 and was buried in Eerbeek, Gelderland.

In 1923, art historian Roland Hollovest called Jan Mankes “the most delicate Dutch artist”, this feature is a high mark and accurately defines the essence of the artist’s work.

Dutch painter Jan Mankes