Among the many Dutch artists, Maris started his interests in the arts during his teenage years. At the age of 19 he joined the Hague Academy of Art, in The Netherlands. During that period, he studied with Lawrence Alma-Tadema.
Maris was one of the founders of a group of artists from The Hague, who, influenced by the Realist school, used a color palette tending towards earthy and gray tones. A more neutral color palette constantly made the areas of light in the works stand out even more, creating an interesting aerial effect, especially where the sun cuts through the clouds, characteristic of the Dutch school at the time.
Although most of Maris’ works dealt with seascapes, woods and mills, some portraits of young girls were painted.
A brief comment: oil media is characteristic of greater stability and, above all, control over the canvas. There’s plenty of time for the artist to make whatever modifications he wants before it’s completely dry. This usually results in works that are more elaborate and complex in detail.
Below are some works by Maris in oil on canvas. Note that edges and lines are more defined, as are shadow and light regions. The planes are also more evident and separated from each other.
The dimensions of the canvases are very small which makes it difficult to execute any details, even in oils.
Maris married Catharina Hendrika Horn in 1867 and had two daughters, Tine and Henriette. The two girls are represented in some of his works, but now using watercolor as a medium. The key frame shown below shows the two girls blowing bubbles. Notice how changing the paint medium makes the image more dynamic. Due to the rapid drying rate of this medium, the artist only has a few seconds to make adjustments and often the transition effects come from spontaneous and rapid blending between adjacent or rapidly overlapping layers. This more dynamic aura further suggests the instability the soap bubbles present in the work. Maris often places props like intense blue ribbons in the models’ hair.
Here, however, this more intense blue was reserved for the ceramic bowl on the table, creating an interesting focal point, intensifying even more with all the gray and brown present on the canvas. Probably this blue was made from Lapis-Lazuli, a very expensive pigment.
A second appearance of his daughters is in the work below, where the eldest daughter appears to be teaching her sister to play the piano. Here, the dark brown of the wood contrasts even more with the blue ribbons present in the girls’ hair, which have now been painted more intensely. A much less saturated version of this blue is present on the bench and in the vase of flowers above the piano. You can almost hear this painting as they talk with each other about the piano—like you are there, watching them.
The third painting depicting his youngest daughter was also done in watercolor, now in a lit external environment. The white of the white dress, the focal point stands out even more. The blue ribbon in her hair is still present, and a slightly more desaturated version is also present in the bouquet of flowers she holds. Everything is very light, loose and spontaneous, characteristic not only of the medium used, but also of the painting object itself and the plein air technique.
[Christian at Agapeta has made it known that he has an extensive collection of on-topic paintings that can be used in posts. So if anyone is interested in having a higher-resolution copy than what is found on this site, contact him. Also, he would be a good resource if you are interested in writing an article for Pigtails on a particular painter. -Ron]