George Hendrik Breitner

George Hendrik Breitner is generally considered one of the most important painters of the 19th century. Together with Isaac Israëls and Willem Witsen he is one of the founders of what was later called Amsterdam Impressionism. Typical of Breitner is his love for the dynamic city life in the streets.

Breitner not only portrayed industrial activities of workmen and draught horses, he depicted busy street views with horse trams, carriages and carts, and domestic and factory maids. Besides town views he painted (self) portraits, interiors, women in kimonos, female nudes, flower still lifes and military subjects.

The influence of photography, which was discovered in 1839 and was rapidly increasing in accessibility, can be seen in Breitner’s work. Strong contrasts in light and dark, faded contours like in a blurred snapshot, and cropped figures and objects are characteristic elements in his paintings.


De Haagse School. Hollandse Meesters van de 19de eeuw, Parijs (Grand Palais), Londen (Royal Academy), Den Haag (Haags Gemeentemuseum) 1983;
Roots and Turns; 20th Century Photography in the Netherlands, Houston, 1988;
G.H. Breitner. De oorsprong van het moment, Panorama Mesdag, Den Haag 1997;

Born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands on September 12th, 1857

Died in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on June 5th, 1923

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