THREE STUDIOS IN MAUVE COUNTRY

At the end of the 19th century the villages of Laren and Blaricum attracted all sorts and conditions of people. Having gained fame as ‘Mauve country’ and through the Laren School of painting the area attracted artists for many years. What started out as an environment for moorland scenes and farmhouse interiors turned out to be an equally inspiring source for new and even avant-garde art movements. Many Dutch and foreign artists worked there during those years. And it was not just the visual arts which originated there. The villages also drew poets, writers, scientists and others from literary and intellectual circles. Several people were attracted to the perception of principles and life philosophies and thus there was to be found a bright mix of Christian anarchists, theosophists, free thinkers, world reformers, nudists, war refugees and many who just wanted to leave the encroaching urbanization behind and who felt they could there experience ‘back to nature’.

 

COLONIES AND HUTS

With Walden, the colony founded by Frederik van Eeden in Bussum, as an example Professor Jacob van Rees founded a colony in 1899 alongside the road which led from Laren to Blaricum. It was here, centered around a large colonial residence and several wooden huts, that the residents tried to create an ideal society with their Colony of the International Brotherhood. The colony as such was short-lived, but in the meantime the ‘import’ in these originally farming villages had discovered working and living in huts and dozens were built at the time. Ru Mauve, son of painter Anton Mauve, and architect Theo Rueter became famous ‘hut builders’. The most beautiful ones were in fact small country houses with roofs of undulating thatch, but most were simple huts made from tarred wood.

These huts were used as living quarters but also as studios and it is in particular in this capacity that a lively trade emerged. Built simply without deep foundations, the huts were regularly picked up and moved to a new location on a farm cart when new plans were being developed on the existing location due to for instance village development. Numbering the planks, taking them apart and building them up again was another often used method.

These original simple huts were still to be found in Laren and Blaricum far into the 20th century. Now that Laren and Blaricum are to be found in the upper ranks of desirable, and therefore expensive, top locations in the Netherlands hardly anything is left of this cultural and architectural history heritage.

 

STUDIOS OF THE DOOYEWAARD FOUNDATION

The Dooyewaard Foundation came into being with the estate of two Blaricum painters, brothers Jacob and Willem Dooyewaard, with Willem as last one. The Foundation aims to acquire and maintain studios and adjacent living quarters in order to preserve and extend Blaricum’s original character as a village of artists. From this perspective the Foundation bought a plot of land between the Schapendrift and Eemnesserweg in Blaricum in 2008 from mrs. Vera Gerson Lohman, daughter of painter Theo Lohmann. This plot has been in the hands of the Lohmann family for nearly a century. Theo Lohmann bought it in 1918 complete with a stone house De Iepen and a separate barn and horses stable, built in 1906. He bought plot and house from Willem Oversteegen. Oversteegen had started a nursery in 1904 at the Eemnesserweg together with Yke Posthumus, gardener in the Colony, which he consequently left. During the twenties Lohmann bought three separate wooden huts/studios and placed them on his land. The first purchase in 1922 was a wooden hut named ‘La Petite Espinette’ in use as a studio annex to Huize Parva on the Torenlaan (now Heideweg 10). The second property was purchased in 1924. This was a studio from Laren in which amongst others painters Ferdinand Hart Nibbrig and Anna Sluijter have worked, Finally in 1927 the third purchase was completed: one of the old huts out of the former colony in the so called Humanitaire Bosje on the grounds of Prof.van Rees (now nearby Torenlaan 64). A 1917 drawing and an old photograph revealed recently that Piet Mondrian worked here that summer.

The many possibilities which a plot with several buildings offered have been exploited well by the Lohmann family. In financially dire times the main house was rented out with the option of a separate studio. Sons at a certain age could use a separate building as their own house. Therefore the family never had to complain for instance about music played by son Antoine Gerson Lohmann who at the time must have played loudly as trumpet in several successful jazz bands.

Apart from the art historical significance of the studios, the properties on the grounds have all played a part in the local resistance during the Second World War. The Lohmann family has helped many people in hiding survive the war by providing shelter in any imaginable location on their property. These three studios(unprotected by zoning or building laws) are still in situ in their nearly original state and the purchase of the entire land and buildings was completed mainly to prevent this last piece of hut culture heritage from being razed to the ground to make way for the construction of new villas.

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