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Fredrik Marinus Kruseman

1817 - 1882

Born in Haarlem in 1816 Kruseman showed an early talent for drawing. From 1833 he was apprenticed to Jan Reekers from whom he learnt drawing from nature and the rules of perspective. Between 1832 and 1833 the artist also attended classes at the City Drawing School and he studied painting with Nicholaas Roosenboom who had a studio near where Kruseman lived. Roosenboom was the son-in-law and pupil of the great artist Andreas Schelfhout and it is likely that Kruseman would have come into contact with him as he was a regular visitor to Roosenboom's studio. In the September of 1833 the artist made his debut at the Exhibition for Living Masters in The Hague, exhibiting a landscape.

In 1835 Kruseman moved to Hilversum, a rural area which attracted many landscape artists including B.C. Koekkoek. He stayed here for a year exhibiting landscapes before moving to Kleve in Germany. B.C. Koekkoek had moved here in 1834 and had become one of the most successful exponents of the Romantic movement and it was natural for Kruseman to seek him out. It was here, under the informal tutelage of B.C. Koekkoek that Kruseman was now inspired to paint landscapes not only in a very realistic fashion but also to give expression to the feelings that the landscape evokes in him. Kruseman learned much about painting technique from Koekkoek for example, how to paint trees (Koekkoek's forte) and how to indicate skate tracks in the snow by applying white paint and then scratching it off whilst still wet with the sharp end of the brush. Kruseman also followed Koekkoek in composition often using the top two thirds of the canvas for the sky and creating much interest for the viewer in the space between the fore and middle ground.

Kruseman went to Brussels in 1841 and he was to remain in the Belgian capital for most of the remainder of his life. Brussels held a strong attraction for artists. Its Salons and coffee houses were natural meeting grounds and were frequented by the likes of Schelfhout, B.C. Koekkkoek, Petrus van Scendel and Bosboom. Brussels was prosperous. Belgium was the first country on the continent to follow the model of the British industrial revolution and the newly rich of the area created an excellent market for art. Kruseman prospered in Brussels selling his works to dealers such as Joseph Hollender and he also worked on commissions for collectors.

Between 1852 and 1856 Kruseman returned to Haarlem where he took many trips around the vicinity of the city. He was particularly attracted to the ruins of the Brederode Casle near Velserend. Interest in these overgrown medieval ruins proceeded from the Romantic yearning for a distant and glorious past as well as a predilection for reminders of the transience of all things.

Kruseman returned to Brussels in 1856 and during the fifties and sixties he gave ruins and castles greater prominence in his work. They were not all topographically accurate but rather used for Romantic effect. Winter landscapes make up about two thirds of Kruseman's oeuvre and around 1860 his art came into full fruition. His tree groups became increasingly more convincing and he introduced his first coral-like tree branches. The depth of his panoramic landscapes became more marked and the cool grey-blue tones steadily gave way to a much warmer palette. Kruseman perfected his rendering of the jet-black mirror surface of the ice and the marks left by skaters and his best works are set in the fading light of early evening often showing the warmth of a light eminating from a small interior somewhere in the painting. He worked well until the late seventies and eventually died in Sint-Gillis near Brussels on 25th May, 1882. Back to list