HENRY VAN VELTHUYSEN
b. Tandjung 1881 – d. Hague 1954
MY VILLAGE, 1939
Signed and dated 'H.v.Velthuysen 1939' lower left
Inscribed 'H.VAN VELTHUYSEN' upper right on reverse
Oil on canvas
59cm x 49.5cm
Private collection, Indonesia.
ESTIMATE RM 8,000 - 12,000
PRICE REALISED RM 19,800
|No stranger to the international auction arena, especially in the European region, Henry van Velthuysen is one of the significant pioneer painters in the Dutch East Indies who were attracted by the myth of the islandparadise of Indonesia. The works of these pioneers were groundbreaking as they did not conform to the conservatism that was common in the arts of the Dutch Indies at the early 20th century. Shifting from realism to expressionism, these painters wanted to convey the tropical essence of Southeast Asia.
Though he painted portraiture and still life, it is the landscape paintings that really defined Henry van Velthuysen’s art. Van Velthuysen is known for his elegant depiction of the desa or village in Indonesia. Here, My Village illustrates a group of women, possibly maids, washing and drying laundry outdoors under a tree. The artist had studiously observed the activity and portrayed it impeccably with his choice of earthy palette applied liberally on board. Notice the shadow that falls on the wall in the background rendered in tones of blue and green. The same clever interplay of colour can be seen with the salmon pink rooftop in the background and hints of orange are dispersedly applied onto the leaves of the tree in the foreground. An unconventional composition is presented where dramatic portrayal of light onto the building at the back pushes the darker tones of the tree and figures to the fore, creating depth to the picture. The women also strike out amidst the earthy tones in their paprika red sarongs.
With the flat treatment of space and forms, the piece undeniably displays stylistic resemblance to works by Nanyang artists such as Chia Yu Chian and Cheong Soo Pieng. The spirit of gotong-royong or mutual aid depicted in the painting is also very much still present in the culture of Southeast Asian countries today.
Lexicon of Foreign Artists who Visualized Indonesia, Leo Haks and Guus Maris, Singapore 1995.