Adolf Boutar: A Nineteenth Century Black model in The Hague

Afbeelding1Willem de Zwart (1862 –1931) Adolf Boutar
c. 1883 Black pencil on paper, 37 x 32 cm
Museum de Fundatie, Heino/Wijhe and Zwolle, 3033

This drawing is one of the few true portraits of Adolf Boutar. He is seated here in western clothing and seems to be rolling a cigarette. Boutar looks like a worker who has just taken a brief break. The setting might be a café. In imitation of Jean-François Millet 1814 –1875 and other French artists, the Schilders van Tachtig (Eighties Painters), to whom De Zwart belonged, also embraced the life of the working classes as a subject.

This portrait may have been drawn shortly before or after Boutars posed for the members of the Pulchri Studio society of artists. he drawing is relatively worked up and the face in particular has been given a great deal of depth. Large areas are hatched and Boutar’s surroundings can also be clearly seen.  The word rood (red) is written on the drawing beneath Boutar’s head, suggesting that it may have De Zwart’s intention to work it up later into a watercolour or a painting. In contrast with the images produced by all the other artists who depicted Boutar in paintings, drawings or watercolours, there is nothing exotic about De Zwart’s drawing, unless it is the vague contour of what might be an earring.

A painting by De Zwart based on this study of Boutar is as yet unknown.

De Zwart was a pupil of Johannes Hendrikus Egenberger  and Jacob Maris 1838 –1899. In 1883 he became a member of the Pulchri Studio society of artists, where Boutar posed. He became very friendly with Breitner. In 1885 De Zwart became a member of The Dutch Etching Club. He is chiefly known for his etchings.

At the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris he received an honourable mention for etching, at the 1894 Exposition in Antwerp he was awarded a gold medal.

Esther Schreuder in the Black is beautiful, Rubens to Dumas catalogue (2008)

About me

In 2008 I was guest curator of the exhibition Black is beautiful. Rubens to Dumas. Important advisors: Elizabeth McGrath (Rubens and colleagues, Warburg institute Image of the Black in Western Art collection), Carl Haarnack (slavery in books), Elmer Kolfin (slavery in prints and paintings) en Adi Martis (contemporary art). Gary Schwartz made his research for The Image of the Black in Western Art available to me.

Black beautiful Rubens to Dumas cover
Black beautiful Rubens to Dumas cover

In 2012 my Anniversary book: 100 years Schiller 1912-2012 was published. Initiative, idea, text and editing (ES). Design and photography Monica Schokkenbroek.

Schiller in Parool boekje 26-11-2012 Paul Arnoldussen
Schiller in Parool boekje 26-11-2012 Paul Arnoldussen

In 2013 my book Cobra aan de grachtCobra on the Canal was published by Samsara publications.

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In 2014 my essay ‘Painted Blacks and Radical Imagery in the Netherlands (1900-1940)’ was published in The Image of the Black in Western Art Volume V (I). (ed. David Bindman, Henry Louis Gates jr.)

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In 2017 I published a book about the black servants at the Court of the Royal Van Oranje family. More than a thousand documents have been found about their lives. (only in Dutch)

Cupido en Sideron Cover 30-8-2017

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