Limited Print of 'The Prayer' by Jan Toorop
Indonesian-Dutch artist Jan Toorop (1858–1928) was born in the Dutch colony of Java, where he stayed until the age of thirteen before moving to the Netherlands. There, he began his formal training as an artist in Delft and Amsterdam at the Rijksakademie, and later at the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels. During his time in Brussels, Toorop immersed himself in the avant-garde art scene and between 1882–1886 he joined the exclusive art group Les XX, which attracted and inspired artists, writers, and musicians from across Europe. By the late 1880s, Toorop travelled frequently between England, Brussels, Paris, and The Hague, during which time he met and worked with many famous artists of the period including: Georges Seurat (1859–1891; pioneer of the pointillist style) and William Morris (1834–1896; founder of the Arts and Crafts movement). At the turn of the century, he was working in a more symbolist style rooted in the decorative motifs of his Javanese childhood, and became well known for his Art Nouveau style posters and advertisements. Following conversion to Catholicism in 1908, Toorop began exploring spirituality in his work, and it is during this period that the current piece was created. The artist’s domineering likeness rendered in earthy tones, turns away from our gaze towards a vision of a Christ-like figure, with hands devoid of colour raised and entwined. The figures are framed within an archway bisected by a pastel rainbow. An intriguing and striking image, this print of the original painting reflects Toorop’s love of the new and avant-garde, as an artist with a richly varied oeuvre and career.
At this time in history the 19th and early 20th centuries saw the rise of a variety of artistic styles, many of which were responses to the Industrial Revolution and its resulting changes to industry, economy, landscape, travel, and daily life. As new technologies were invented, notably the steam engine and methods of mass production, developments like the Arts and Crafts Movement promoted a return to skilled craftsmanship and a rebirth of the traditional decorative arts. Impressionism sought to portray atmospheric elements and capture the experiences of modern life rather than realism. In the early 20th century, the Art Nouveau style emerged and became popular internationally. Jan Toorop became associated with the movement due to a poster he designed to advertise a salad oil which became very popular. These artistic movements were prominent in France, though their influence was extended through the reaches of travel, trade, and World Exhibitions.