Mystical/fairytale-like figures, imposing landscapes and mysterious scenes characterise the work of the 19th century painter Matthijs Maris (1839-1917). Matthijs, the middle brother of the artistic Maris brothers, worked mainly in Paris and London. His eccentric lifestyle and idiosyncratic paintings provided inspiration to young artists, including Vincent van Gogh. Although his work was internationally renowned and commanded record breaking prices, he eventually led a secluded life in his studio.
The Rijksmuseum is presenting a large exhibition of works by this romantic bohemian. The Matthijs Maris exhibition includes 75 paintings, drawings, etchings and craftwork. For the first time, due to unique loans including from The Burrell Collection in Glasgow, it is possible to present a complete overview of his oeuvre.
Matthijs Maris, a well kept secret
In 1874, in Paris, Matthijs Maris (1839-1917) painted De Vlinders (The Butterflies), a vibrant, colourful painting of a girl, lying on her back in the grass, surrounded by a multitude of fluttering butterflies. The painting is considered to be his magnum opus and commanded a record value. On Maris’ death, in 1917 in London, the picture Vanished Illusions was on his easel. The picture is a mysterious representation of a woman, bent forwards – almost fallen – on the steps of an altar. It is painted in many layers of grey and ochre, which makes the woman only slowly come to light. Who was this artist and what happened to him in the meantime? The Matthijs Maris exhibition tells the story of this stranger who was world-renowned in his time and who enjoyed cult status, but who ended up living a lonely and almost secluded life in his London studio. He was the middle brother of the Maris brothers (Jacob and Willem), famous painters from the Hague School, but the one who took his own path, both in terms of themes and his experimental techniques. At the end of the 19th century, he was held in high esteem by the young generation of Tachtigers (Eighties – a literary movement), who flocked like pilgrims to his tiny studio in London. It is 100 years ago this year that Matthijs Maris died.
The Burrell Collection in Glasgow
For the first time, due to unique loans from The Burrell Collection in Glasgow, it is possible for the Rijksmuseum to present a broad and complete overview of the works of Matthijs Maris. The Burrell Collection was created by Sir William Burrell (1861 – 1951), a shipping magnate who collected the works of Maris, among others. Upon his death, he left his entire collection to the city of Glasgow on the condition that it would never cross the sea. The museum is currently closed until 2020 for extensive renovations. As a result, the Scottish Parliament made an exception and gave permission for a select number of works by Maris included in this unique collection to be displayed in the Rijksmuseum.
The exhibition is accompanied by the publication of two books: Matthijs Maris and Maris at Work.
Matthijs Maris is a comprehensive monograph written by Richard Bionda. Bionda is an eminent expert on Matthijs Maris. He bases his biography and analysis of the painter´s work on the extensive correspondence the artist left behind, and the numerous critiques and publications of the time.
Matthijs Maris; Dutch and English editions; approx. 304 pages; ISBN NL edition: 978-94-6208-380-6; ISBN ENG edition: 978-94-6208-381-3; RRP € 40
The results of research into his painting technique, carried out to coincide with the upcoming exhibition, will be published simultaneously in Maris at Work. Rijksmuseum researchers analysed 16 paintings and a pastel to try to uncover the secrets of Maris’ technique. The results will also be presented at a symposium to be held on 14 December 2017. The technical research is fully supported by the Victor Heiloo Foundation/Rijksmuseum Fund.
Maris at Work; To be published in English; approx. 160 pages; ISBN: 978-94-6208-382-0; RRP € 30