WILLEM OTTO WIJNAND NIEUWENKAMP
(1874-1950)

Nieuwenkamp was born on July 27th 1874 in Amsterdam. His father owned sailing ships sailing to Indonesia and hearing the stories of the returning captains evoked in the young Nieuwenkamp an obsession for distant lands and adventure. After a failed attempt by his father to have his son make a career in his business, Nieuwenkamp attended the Academy for Decorative Art in Amsterdam. However, he left within one year to go his own way.

 

He was an autodidact and a great experimenter with new techniques, particularly in the art of etching. Nieuwenkamp was a very focused man with the discipline of a scientist tempered by the sensitivity of an artist, a lust for adventure, a natural appreciation for ethnic arts and an enormous ambition to tread new paths.

In 1898 he visited Indonesia for the first time and on his second visit in 1903-1904 he went on to Bali and became the first foreign artist to love Bali and the Balinese with a passion. Having secured agreements with several museums in the Netherlands to obtain Balinese art and objects for their collections, Nieuwenkamp immediately started to purchase and order a wide range of ethnographic art and objects from local artists and craftsmen.

Through his drawings and books, he gave an excellent impression of Balinese art and culture at that time. Since 1854 Northern Bali was under Dutch rule but Southern Bali in 1904, when Nieuwenkamp visited it, was still independent. Nieuwenkamp would be one of the last Westerners to experience a glorious medieval society in its final days. During his second visit to Bali in 1906 the Dutch decided to end the independence of South Bali and Nieuwenkamp was invited by the Governor-General van Heutz to accompany the Dutch invasion force. By contemporary European standards, the Balinese were barbarous and primitive, particularly with widows throwing themselves in the flames of the funeral pyre of their deceased husbands. But Nieuwenkamp was a singular man who saw in their society the beauty and soul that had been lost in his own.

On September 20th, 1906, Denpasar, the capital of South Bali fell to the Dutch military forces. Official military briefings praised the victory which was reported with nationalistic pride on the front pages of all Dutch newspapers. As Nieuwenkamp had witnessed, the truth was far from glorious. As if in trance the Balinese, men women and children, dressed in their finest silks and jewellery and armed with ancient bejewelled krises, the Raja himself mounted atop a golden palanquin, rushed forward, the men killing their wives and children and the Dutch machinegun fire doing the rest. The once-powerful and magnificent court of Denpasar was left in ashes and as many as two thousand Balinese dead. The Dutch suffered four deads.

Nieuwenkamp made drawings and saved as many beautiful architectural elements and artefacts from the rubbles as he could, most of it now in the collection of the Ethnological Museum in Leiden.

 

Entrance to the temple at Klungkung, Bali, 1925

 

With studio seal at the reverse, dated and described, bottom left

Black chalk on paper, 53 x 46.5 cm

Wobbly bridge, Tabanan, Bali, 1937

 

Signed with initials bottom right and dated, bottom left

Pencil and ink on paper, 22 x 26.3 cm

Statue of Vishnu Garuda, Bali, 1904

 

Signed with initials

Pencil and ink on paper, 21.4 x 21.3 cm

 

Literature:
Bruce W. Carpenter, W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp. First European Artist in Bali, Abcoude 1997, p. 157

Four outrigger proa’s on the beach of Kusambe, Bali, 1937

Signed with initials, dated and described with location bottom left

Pencil and ink on paper, 29.7 x 35 cm

Four Balinese, 1910

 

Signed and dated bottom left

Pencil and ink on paper, 15.6 x 23 cm
 

Literature:

W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, Zwerftochten op Bali, Amsterdam, 1910, p. 36

Stone statue in the temple at Madura, India, 1914

Signed with initials top right

Pencil on paper, 21.2 x 16.7 cm

 

Literature:

Ernst Braches en J.F. Heijbroek, W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp,Bouwstoffen, toegepaste grafiek en illustraties, Amsterdam 2016, p. 194 

Stone statue in the temple at Madura, India, 1914

 

Signed with initials and dated, bottom left

Pencil on paper, 25.4 x 16.7 cm

 

Literature:

Ernst Braches en J.F. Heijbroek, W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, Bouwstoffen, toegepaste grafiek en illustraties, Amsterdam 2016, p. 214

Part of the ring-wall of the Taj Mahal, Agra, India, 1914

 

Signed with initials and dated bottom right

Black chalk on paper, 45.5 x 53 cm

 

Literature:

Ernst Braches en J.F. Heijbroek, W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, Bouwstoffen, toegepaste grafiek en illustraties, Amsterdam 2016, p. 201

Graveyard with in the background the Borobudur, 1937

 

Signed with initials and dated bottom left

Pencil and ink on paper, 33 x 29 cm

 

Literature:

Bruce W. Carpenter, W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp. First European Artist in Bali, Abcoude 1997, p. 135

Premises in North Bali, 1906

Signed with initials and titled bottom left and fully signed, bottom right

Pencil and ink on paper, 10.5 x 18 cm

 

Literature:

- W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, Zwerftochten op Bali, Amsterdam 1910, p.38.

- Bruce W. Carpenter, W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, First European Artist in Bali, Abcoude 1997, p. 173

Entrance to a house in Denpasar, Bali, 1937

 

Signed, dated and titled bottom left

Pencil and ink on paper, 19 x 26 cm
 

Literature:

Ernst Braches en J.F. Heijbroek, W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, Bouwstoffen, toegepaste grafiek en illustraties, Amsterdam 2016, p. 38

Incoming rain, Den Pasar, Bali 1937

 

Signed with initials, dated and titled, bottom right

Black chalk and ink on paper, 42 by 46 cm

 

Literature:

Ernst Braches en J.F. Heijbroek, W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, Bouwstoffen, toegepaste grafiek en illustraties, Amsterdam 2016, p. 383

Market under the Banyan tree, 1937

 

Signed with initials and dated bottom right

Pencil and ink on paper, 28 cm x 34.5 cm

 

Literature:

Bruce W. Carpenter, W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp. First European Artist in Bali, p. 138

Jung boy at Loemboeng, 1918

 

Signed with initials and dated, bottom right

Black chalk on paper, 25.7 x 10 cm

 

Literature:

W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, Zwerftochten door Timor en Onderhoorigheden, Amsterdam 1925, p. 138. Ernst Braches and J.F. Heijbroek, W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp. Bouwstoffen, toegepaste grafiek en illustraties, Amsterdam 2016, p. 183 and 365

Weltevreden, Kebon Sirih, & Vlucht voor de bui (Fleeing the rain)

Executed between February 20 and March 2, 1918

 

Double sided drawing in graphite pencil on paper

Images: c. 33 x 56 cm and 46 x 58 cm

Paper: c. 49 x 60 cm

Note:
These are the original drawings, based on which the lithographs “Vlucht voor de bui” and “Weltevreden, Kebon Sirih” were made by Nieuwenkamp in March 1918. The lithographs were part of a series depicting Java, all of them made in 1918. Seven of these lithographs were exhibited in Batavia, March 28 – April 7 1918, at the Nederlands-Indische Kunstkring in Batavia (the lithographs of the present two drawings under the numbers 7 and 2). In, Braches, E., and Heijbroek, J.F. W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, Bouwstoffen, Toegepast grafiek en illustraties, De Buitenkant 2016, one of the drawings is illustrated in colour on pg. 503 (plate 2602) and both lithographs are illustated on pg. 503 (plate 2601) and on pg. 504 (plate 2605). Also in, Hallema, A., W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp en zijn nieuwe prenten van Java, in Nederlands-Indië Oud en Nieuw, May 1920, pg. 17-32, both lithographs are illustrated.

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