The Frans Hals Museum is entrusted with managing the sizeable legacy of the painter and writer Jacobus van Looy (1855-1930). This exhibition shows a selection of oil paintings, drawings and sketch books by the artist that were inspired by his natural surroundings.
Nature and country life were always a strong source of inspiration for Jacobus van Looy. This was apparent as early as 1885-1886, when the artist painted a number of landscapes at Fiesole near Florence during his tour of Italy after winning the Dutch Prix de Rome.
From 1887 to 1893, Van Looy resided in Amsterdam. In order to gain inspiration – and to escape the hubbub of city life – on several occasions Van Looy stayed at Waterland, a country home near Velsen where his brother-in-law was employed as a gardener. The work Cabbage Garden on the edge of Velserbos Forest is from this period.
In 1894, Van Looy and his wife Titia moved into ‘Zomerzorg’ in Soest, a country home that was surrounded by a beautifully designed garden and offered a wide view of the village’s rural surroundings. The house was bordered by a polder with pastures and meadowlands, and each summer, Van Looy could observe the recurring ritual of the mowers working in the field. The artist made dozens of sketches of this farm work.
In this period, Van Looy also started work painting and drawing his model Aaltje, the daughter of a local smallholder who as a child tended her father’s herd of goats. Van Looy probably met her during one of his many outdoor trips sketching the Soest countryside.
In his Haarlem years – from 1907 until his death in 1930 – Van Looy primarily concentrated on painting flowers and fruit in the garden of his house on Kleine Houtweg. Besides working in his own garden, the artist also drew inspiration from the woodlands of nearby Haarlemmerhout Forest.