The collection of the Kröller-Müller Museum is famed worldwide for its paintings by great masters such as Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Piet Mondriaan and Georges Seurat. But the museum collection is even richer. The exhibition Drawn from life presents a selection from the more than 4,500 drawings, pastels, watercolours and prints from the 1850-1950 period, many of which are seldom on show. This is a unique presentation of 150 very different works on paper, which provide an insight in life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. 

A slice of life

The works on paper by artists such as Jozef Israëls, George Breitner, Bart van der Leck, Georges Seurat, Odilon Redon and Paul Signac show everyday life. People engaged in their daily activities, such as the labouring fishermen of Jan Toorop or the female dancers of Marius Bauer and Pablo Picasso, or at quieter moments, such as the contemplative women of Suze Robertson and Charley Toorop. Street life and nightlife are favourite themes in the watercolours and charcoal drawings of Isaac Israels, Leo Gestel and Oleksandr Bohomazov.

From spontaneous expression to artwork

From quick doodles in sketchbooks after fleeting encounters to endless studies of the same subject, from the first sketches for later paintings, sculptures or prints to detailed scenes on paper – all these facets of drawing can be found in Drawn from life. Most of the works on exhibition were collected by Helene Kröller-Müller, her adviser H.P. Bremmer and family friend Sam van Deventer.

In her publication Beschouwingen (Reflections), Helene writes about the acquisition of a drawing by  Picasso in 1915:

‘The female dancer may seem just a doodle, a coloured sketch, and even though I would prefer to show one of his unique early works, this spontaneous expression allows us to see what direction Picasso was thinking of and that he was also using impressionism as a frame of reference.’

Three artists are featured prominently in the exhibition, as they are extremely well represented in the collection: Isaac Israels, Julie de Graag and Jan Toorop.

Draw your way through the museum!

The Drawing Book accompanies the exhibition, with twelve challenging assignments and handy drawing tips. For everyone who enjoys drawing or would like to draw more. The Drawing Book is available for free.

Below you can watch a short video about the exhibition, published on MuseumTV.

Images: Pablo Picasso, Nu debout (Standing nude), 1907 - 1908 / Julie de Graag, Cat lying, circa 1917 / Jozef Israëls, detail Woman drinking coffee, circa 1902 / Isaac Israels, Woman with blue hat, London, circa 1920 / Oleksandr Bohomazov, Kreshchatyk (main street in Kyiv), 1914 / Jan Toorop, Sea view (Fishermen on the beach), 1891 / Leo Gestel, Circus, 1928 - 1929 / Pablo Picasso, Danseuse (Woman dancer), 1901

The exhibition Drawn from life has partly been made possible by support from Dirkzwager.