Van Abbemuseum and Eindhoven Museum Purchase Exceptional Works by Artist Jan Toorop

Wednesday, August 2, 2023
Van Abbemuseum and Eindhoven Museum Purchase Exceptional Works by Artist Jan Toorop

The Van Abbemuseum and Eindhoven Museum collectively bought two works by Jan Toorop: an influential Dutch artist from the period around 1900. This marks the first joint purchase of the Eindhoven museums. The works showcase an important part of the city’s history.

The Van Abbemuseum and Eindhoven Museum recently acquired two chalk drawings by artist Jan Toorop (1858-1928). The colourful works were made in 1918 and show female factory workers in Eindhoven's cigar factory Mignot & De Block. This industry is closely linked to the Van Abbemuseum. "The Van Abbemuseum, which opened its doors in 1936, was an initiative by Henri van Abbe: an entrepreneur in Eindhoven’s tobacco industry," says Steven ten Thije, Head of Collections at the museum. Toorop's drawings were until recently in the care of relatives of Adolph Mignot, one of the founders of Mignot & De Block. Eindhoven Museum received the information that led to the purchase of the works.

Around the time the works were made, Mignot & De Block was one of the largest companies in Eindhoven's thriving cigar industry. An industry that had a lot of influence on the Eindhoven area. "Eindhoven is very important as a technical city and industrial manufacturing city," says Klaartje Groot, Head of Collections and Research at Eindhoven Museum. "Mignot & De Block had a leading role in the industrialisation of the nineteenth century. For a while, they were also Eindhoven's largest employer. Laborers built the Eindhoven we know today." In addition, Mignot & De Block was one of the first factories in the region to increasingly employ women. Women who are depicted in Toorop's drawings.

The Van Abbemuseum and Eindhoven Museum consider the acquisition the first feat in a broader collaboration. "We saw this as a great opportunity to celebrate a point of similarity and connection between our museums," says Ten Thije. "And as far as I’m concerned, it is a gesture towards a future in which we’ll be working together more. As an art museum and a history museum, we are partners. We both tell the stories of the city, just from different perspectives." The museums are currently in talks about where Toorop's drawings will be on display for the first time.

Toorop was born in Indonesia but was an active part of the art community in the Netherlands. His Dutch-Indonesian background made him a remarkable artist in the painters’ community of the time. For the Van Abbemuseum, Toorop's background gives the works extra significance. Henri van Abbe's cigars were made with tobacco from Sumatra. "We think we should be aware of that and tell a more complete story”, according to Ten Thije. “We are currently researching the working and living conditions in Deli, Sumatra. We’re showing the first part of this research in the museum's basement, under the name Hidden Connections. With this exhibition, we aim to draw attention to the oppression and resistance on the plantations."

Jan Toorop (1858-1928) was an influential, notable artist. Along with Van Gogh and Mondrian, he is among the most important Dutch painters of his time. Toorop began as an impressionist but later developed his style towards pointillism and symbolism. Next to his work as a painter, Toorop also designed illustrations, book bindings, ceramics, and advertisements. His work is popular among a wide audience.

Photo: Max Kneefe

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