This painting is exceptional within the artistic production of Smorenberg: he painted mostly landscapes and after 1924 turned to lake views with water lilies and portraits. He painted this flower still life in 1912, one of his best productive years, when he was regularly staying at his sister’s place in Switzerland alongside Lake Geneva.
The visual impact of these strong, daring, unmixed colours is immediate. Our painting reminds of some earlier still lifes by Vincent van Gogh (who died in 1890) and of the huge, late “Nymphéas” Claude Monet was to paint between 1914 and 1926.
About Dirk Smorenberg
Alkmaar 1883 – 1960 Oud-Loosdrecht
Slef-taught painter, nick-named “Smoor”.
Smorenberg’s career can be divided in two: before and after his settlement in Oud-Loosdrecht in 1924.
He was the son of a stonemason. At the age of 14 he joined the Dutch navy for three years, followed by five years in the artillery. Smorenberg had been making drawings enthousiastically since the age of 14. When he settled in Amsterdam at the end of 1904 he started making copies in museums and painting his own landscapes.
In the period 1910/11 he came into contact with future members of the Bergen School. Thanks to the finanacial suport of a local vicar he was able to travel with several Dutch painters (amongst them the 9 years older Piet Mondriaan) to New York in 1911. Smorenberg’s third daughter Nongki (Smoor loved strange names, pretending he had a Chinese grandmother) remembers he sold well in the Big Aplle, although he regularly had to sleep during those six months on a coach in a park.
Between 1912 and 1914 he regularly stayed in Switzerland together with his friend Dirk Filarski (1885 – 1964) whom he had met in Bergen, near Alkmaar. Both fell in their landscapes under the influence of Ferdinand Hodler (1853 – 1918), the Swiss symbolist painter who had turned to expressionism. They adapted his colour palette while painting sobre, lineair, almost synthetic views.
By 1923 Smorenberg lived in Amsterdam and Almelo, before settling definitively in Oud-Loosdrecht the next year. He would now concentrate on sweet, decorative views of the local lakes ("Loosdrechtse Plassen"), often sprinkled with water-lilies; gentle and a bit naive. He would also regularly paint portraits.
About our painting
Smorenberg painted this grand Divisionist masterpiece at the age of 29. He was still a young, seaking talent. Looking for inspiration and also probably for a roof over his head he regularly stayed between 1912 and 1914 in Switzerland. Together with his friend Dirk Filarski he lived for longer periods at his sister’s place in Clarens. Line (Nicoline) Smorenberg and her husband, the musician Nico Ebels, lived here near Montreux, beside Lake Geneva. This beautiful location, but also visits to Lago Maggiore, inspired both artists. Striking touches of vivid colours, (purple, pink, lilac-blue, light and dark green) were characteristic for both painter’s production of those three years. Smorenberg painted interesting winter landscapes and also our exceptional flower still life, with blues and lilacs leant from Ferdinand Holdler.
Much later, in 1947, after each had lost his initital partner,Filarski and Line got married.
Clearly both Smorenberg and Filarski painted their best and highest-priced paintings between 1912 and 1920. Once Smorenberg had permanently settled (in 1924) on the borders of a lake (again) between Amsterdam and Utrecht his probing, formative years were over with. He became an horourable painter of charming water landscapes with a touch of Art Nouveau lilies.
The bills had to be paid: Smoor maried twice (the second time with a young woman of 21, who was 18 years younger than him). He had two daughters with his first wife and two more daughters and a son with his second wife.
Our painting is exceptional within the artistic creation of Dirk Smorenberg by its subject, size, quality and technique. It reminds of Pointillism and of Divisionism: it is a visual explosion of small clots of unblended colours. That other Dutch painter, Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890) had also regularly worked in this technique, integrating bright, contrasting colours.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because the visual impact of this colourful bomb is overwhelming.