Art, Artists and Gauguin, PB (vol 1)

ISBN 978 1909281 80 6
478 pages.
Published 4/4/2021


Paperback, PDF

Dr Rookmaaker often made the point that when we stop talking about an artist, that artist dies. These collected works bring together, for the first time, the range of Rookmaaker’s thinking on the arts and culture: our conversation with him is alive and well. Like all human endeavour, these volumes are rooted in a particular place and time. However, you will find much more than you expect which is of real, continuing importance in shaping a Christian response to our time and place.

As a cultural analyst, Rookmaaker anticipated the postmodern erasure of the split between high and low culture and pointed out guidelines for a meaningful involvement in both. He embodied the Christian calling to engage in a fruitful and wise way in the culture of the present day. 

Most of the writings compiled in volumes 1 and 2 date from before 1960.

The Complete Works of Hans Rookmaaker


Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker is editor-in-chief of ArtWay,, an online service and resource in Dutch and English about the visual arts and faith for individuals and congregations. She did her studies in musicology at the University of Amsterdam, complemented with minors in art history and liturgical studies at the Free University in Amsterdam. For many years she has worked as a freelance editor, translator and writer. She edited the Complete Works of her father, art historian Hans Rookmaaker, contributed to books, and wrote articles about popular music, liturgy, and the visual arts. She was editor of a Dutch book of visual meditations for Lent (2012) and co-authored a Dutch handbook for art in the church (2015). In 2019 she co-curated the Art Stations of the cross in Amsterdam. She lives in Langbroek in the Netherlands.

“Rookmaaker sets the arts in the midst of a rich and full blooded Christian worldview … It is a wonderful thought that this man’s rare wisdom, which so radically changed the lives of those who knew him, can now find its way to a wider audience in the pages which follow.”

Jeremy Begbie, Professor in Theology and the Arts at Cambridge University, UK and Duke Divinity School, USA

Acknowledgments xi

Foreword by Jeremy Begbie xiii

H.R. Rookmaaker: The Shaping of his Thought, an introduction

by Graham Birtwistle xv

Part I: Gauguin and Nineteenth-Century Art Theory

Preface by Hans Rookmaaker to the Second Edition 3

1. Introduction 5 The art of the Salons (6)

2. The Precursors of the Synthetists 11 David, Ingres, Gros, Géricault (11); Constable, Turner (12); Goya (13); Delacroix (15); Baudelaire (19); Swedenborg (25); Baudelaire (continued) (27); Edgar Allen Poe (31); Schopenhauer (33); Carlyle (35); Art in the Realist tradition (38); French landscape (41); Impressionism (43); Japanese art (44)

3. The Genesis and the Character of Symbolism 46 William Blake (46); John Ruskin (48); Pre-Raphaelite movement (50); Rose†Croix (57); Symbolism and Synthetism (60); Symbolist art (61); Negative attitude to reality (62); Symbolist art (continued) (68)

4. Kindred Spirits 73 Impressionism (73); Seurat (76); Puvis de Chavannes (80); Cézanne (81); Van Gogh (84); Rive Droite (89)

5. The Artistic Ideals of the Synthetists 91 Anti-naturalism (91); Subjectivism (92); Individualism (93); Synthesis (93); Freedom (94); Realism (95); Art and nature (97)

6. The Origin and Development of the Synthetist Theory of Art 1885–1890 99 Gauguin’s early development (100); The early development of Bernard (103); The events of the summer of 1888 (107); Gauguin with van Gogh in Arles (110); Sérusier (112); Gauguin in Paris in 1889 (113); Gauguin and his friends at Le Pouldu (114); Gauguin in 1890 (116)

7. The Definitive Formulations 119 Morice (119); Gauguin (124); Mallarmé (125); Gauguin’s escape from France (126); Aurier (128); Maurice Denis (133); Sérusier (137); The theory of correspondences (138); Sérusier (continued) (139); Bernard (143)

8. Some Terms and Concepts 147 Synthèse (147); Imagination (156); Rêve (157); Symbol (160); Art as revelation (162); Symbol (continued) (166); The iconic – the real achievement of Synthetist art theory (169); Musicality (175); Mystère (183)

9. Gauguin’s Last Years 187 Gauguin’s Realism (188); Manau Tupapau (189; D’où venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? Où allons-nous? (191); Later writings (197); Freedom (199); Gauguin’s legacy (200)

Bibliography 202 On art, art theory and aesthetics before the nineteenth century (203); Philosophy and aesthetics in the nineteenth century (204); Literature and culture in the nineteenth century (up to 1885) (205); General works on nineteenth-century art (207); Precursors of the Synthetists (208); Art and art theory in the naturalistic-realistic tradition (209); Art and literature outside the circle of the Synthetists (211); Kindred spirits of the Synthetists, writers and painters (215); Writings by or about the Synthetists (1885–1900) (218); Writings by Gauguin (219); Writings concerning Gauguin (219); Memoirs and writings after 1900 of eye-witnesses (222); Later literature on Synthetism and the Synthetists (222); Writings concerning Gauguin after 1959 (223) Theses Accompanying the Dissertation 225

Part II: Rookmaaker as Art Critic (1949–1956)

Middle Ages and Renaissance 231 Art treasures of the Lower Rhineland: grand culture from around AD 1000 (231); From the treasuries of the Middle Ages (233); Painting in the late Middle Ages (235); From Gothic to Renaissance (236); Alsation art in Delft I (237); Alsation art in Delft II (239); Rhineland’s art in Arnhem (240); Beauty from the Middle Ages in the Rijksmuseum (242); Religious art in Tournai (244); Burgundian splendour by Flemish masters (245); The portrait in the Old Netherlands (246); Jan van Scorel: universal artist (248); Leonardo da Vinci: brilliant and universal (250); Italian drawings: breaking with the Renaissance (251)

Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries 253 Caravaggio’s influence on the school of Utrecht (253); Painters of architecture (254); Dutch still lifes (256); The Rembrandt House in Amsterdam (257); Fame and value of a great artist: Rembrandt exposition in Amsterdam (259); Rembrandt as graphic artist (262);

viii Art, Artists and Gauguin

Rembrandt and the Bible (264); The Gospel of Rembrandt (265); Rembrandt’s pupils (266); 120 Famous paintings in the Rijksmuseum (268); The story of the portrait in the Rijksmuseum (269); Three centuries of portraits in the Rijksmuseum (270); Rubens and Antwerp (272); The Venetian art of painting (274); The French landscape (276); Swiss graphic art in the Print Gallery of the Rijksmuseum (277); Drawings from two centuries in the Rijksmuseum (278); Gainsborough in Bath (280); Goya’s

accusations (281)

Nineteenth Century 283 Romantic painting: entitled to more recognition and a little fame (283); The Romantic painting (284); Romantic works from the nineteenth century (285); Nuyen: a gifted Romantic (287); Beautiful Nuyen discovered (288); The Hague school of art (289); Verster in Lakenhal (290); Pier Pander – an overdue classicist (290); Constantin Guys (292); A hundred years of Norwegian painting (293); The British school of the hunting scene (295); Early works by van Gogh (296); Van Gogh: visual phenomenon (297); James Ensor: a great graphic artist (297); Bresdin: etcher and lithographer (298); Van Gogh’s contemporaries (299); Monet: a mirror of Impressionism (301)

Twentieth Century 303 E. Munch: forerunner of modern art (303); Europe 1907, an important year for art (304); What is Expressionism? (305); Beckmann: violent Expressionism (308); Macke: pure talent (309); Paula Modersohn-Becker (309); Female compassion in painting: Käthe Kollwitz, Charley Toorop, and the Joffers (311); Modern Italians in the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art in Amsterdam (312); The Picasso of Eindhoven (313); Picasso’s Guernica in Amsterdam (315); De Stijl in the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art (318); Bart van der Leck (319); Guggenheim collection in the Gemeentemuseum (320); Unbelief as emptiness (322); Collection Urvater in Museum Kröller-Müller (324); Willink, envisioner of existential angst (325); W.Schumacher: magical and Romantic (327); German art after 1945 (328); Joseph Zaritsky: chaotic work without clear substance (329); Belgian art (330); Three friends who gave expressions to a Flemish view of life (331); G. Rouault: modern Christian art (333); Healthy French art (334); Works by André Petroff (335); Humour in drawing: mirror of modern life (336); Saul Steinberg’s mockery: nihilistic games (337); Modern American graphic art (338); Comparative exposition of modern art (339); The Experimental in (or out of) the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art (341); Domela Nieuwenhuis (342); Modern art as national property (343); Meritorious work

Contents ix of Paul Citroen (345); Charley Toorop: mature talent in full bloom (347); Berserik: one of the best (347); Escher’s graphic art: puzzling cleverness (348); Graphic work of Henk Krijger (350); Poorly organized exposition (350); Christian art in Amstelveen (352); Van Meegeren: genius forger and decadent artist (352); Contact between art and the public (355); Monumental arts (356); Emergence of a style (358); Poster art, a living art (360)