Frederik Marinus Kruseman



Artist's Biography & Works For Sale


Dutch artist Frederik Marinus Kruseman was a specialist in winter landscapes. In fact, these evocative depictions – of bare trees, sunlit snow, skaters on frozen rivers and gatherers of firewood – constitute almost two thirds of his output (which in its entirety is estimated to be in the region of 250 to 300 pictures). In contrast, only three still life paintings by him are known to exist.

Kruseman was born in Haarlem in 1816 (or 1817 according to some sources), but very little is known about the details of his life. His father, Philip Benjamin Kruseman (1781-1842), was a hat-maker by trade. The painters Cornelis Kruseman (1797-1857) and Jan Adam Kruseman (1804-1862) were his cousins. (The latter was to become Director of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam.) Young Frederik showed a precocious artistic talent, which his family nurtured, and he was fortunate to be given the opportunity to study under a succession of great Dutch landscape painters.

While still in his teens, he was apprenticed to the still-life and flower painter Johannes (Jan) Reekers (1790-1858) and was then taught by Nicolaas Johannes Roosenboom (1805-1880). Roosenboom was the son-in-law and pupil of Andreas Schelfhout (1787-1870) and it seems likely that Kruseman would have had the chance to see the work of this prominent painter too. It was while under the tutelage of Roosenboom that Kruseman began to develop his skill in painting winter landscapes.

In 1835 Kruseman spent a year studying with the artist Jan van Ravenswaaij (1789-1869) in Hilversum. He returned to Haarlem briefly, then in 1837 he set off for Cleves (Kleve) in Germany, where the pre-eminent landscape artist Barend Cornelis Koekkoek (1803-1862) was based. Koekkoek was renowned for his rendering of trees, and he was to be a major influence on Kruseman's painting style. (It may have been from Koekkoek’s work that Kruseman learnt to make such effective use of a large sky and a low horizon.) Although Koekkoek was described by Kruseman as his “master”, accounts differ as to whether or not Kruseman was actually apprenticed to him. It is thought to have been a more informal mentoring arrangement.

Kruseman remained in Cleves for two years then returned to Haarlem. He exhibited his work and began to enjoy some early success. He also developed an excellent understanding of his artistic heritage by visiting the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam to study the work of earlier landscape masters, especially those of the Dutch Golden Age, such as Meindert Hobbema (1638-1709), Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/29?-1682), Jan Wijnants (1632-1684?) and Aelbert Cuyp (1620-1691).

His next move, in 1841, was to Brussels. Kruseman travelled extensively through Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and France, living in many different places, but apart from a few years spent back in Haarlem in the 1850s, Brussels was to be his main home for the rest of his life.

Although his work did not become widely known during his lifetime, Kruseman produced the kind of romantic landscapes that were very much in line with contemporary taste. He repeated the same themes in many of his paintings, but this does not detract from the virtuosity and vitality of his delightful oeuvre.

Frederik Marinus Kruseman died in Saint-Gilles, near Brussels, in 1882.

Examples of his work are to be found in the collections of the Bibliothèque Royale Albert I (Brussels), Frans Hals Museum (Haarlem, the Netherlands), Gemeentemuseum Commanderie van Saint-Jan (Nijmegen, the Netherlands), Stedelijk Musea (Kortrijk, Belgium), Museum der bildenden Künste (Leipzig, Germany) and the Hamburger Kunsthalle.