Jan Toorop

April 25, 2010 at 2:59 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Jan Toorop (1858 – 1928) is probably one of the most distinctive of the Symbolist artists; his unusual, and slightly unsettling style is instantly recognisable. This could be explained by his childhood spent in Java – many of his figures are highly reminiscent of Javanese shadow theatre puppets. Based in the Netherlands, Toorop was introduced to Symbolism during a visit to Belgium, where he was inspired by the works of Jean Delville and Fernand Khnopff. Further information on the artist’s life can be found here.

A New Generation

A New Generation

This painting takes the unusual form of a testament of love to the artists infant daughter. Michael Gibson writes that ‘the child in the highchair is the daughter of the artist. She turns her back on the past (her mother, who carries withered flowers) and lifts her arms towards the luminous and mysterious world. Modernity is signified by the telegraph post and the rail.’

The Garden

The Vagabonds

This painting reminds me of the story of Christ’s last night in the garden with his disciples before his arrest.

Three Brides

Three Fiancees

Toorop stated that ‘the central fiancee evokes an inward, superior and beautiful desire… an ideal suffering… The fiancee on the left symbolises spiritual suffering. She is the mystic fiancee, her eyes wide with fear…” and the bride on the right with her ‘materialistic and profane expression… stands for the sensual world.’

Garden of Sorrows

Garden of Sorrows



  1. @~ said,

    I see you reference Michael Gibson’s excellent book, don’t know if you know, but there is also a free to read online version of it here, including more artwork than included in the book http://www.all-art.org/symbolism/1.htm

    • Decadent Handbook said,

      Ooh, thank you! That’s going straight onto the blogroll. I love that book – it was a wonderful introduction for me.

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