Suze Robertson. Dedicated. Individualistic. Modern.
In honour of the 100th anniversary of her death, a major retrospective on The Hague-based artist Suze Robertson (1855-1922) is set to open in Museum Panorama Mesdag on 24 September. This will mark the first time in forty years that so many of her paintings and drawings – including many obscure works – have been brought together from museums and private collections for display to the public. Based on groundbreaking new research into her work, studio practice and life, this exhibition presents the most comprehensive portrait possible of this undeservedly forgotten artist.
A radical innovator
Suze Robertson was and is considered one of the great artists of her time and a radical innovator. As one of the first women to become a professional artist in the Netherlands, both her artistic convictions and her lifestyle challenged the prevailing notions of her era in terms of what was typically feminine. Determined to succeed, she devoted nearly four decades to a self-aware and unshakeable quest to build an oeuvre in which every element bears her unmistakeable visual signature.
‘Suze Robertson’s paintings of housekeeper Pietje Prins, set against a gold-leaf background, are among her most iconic works. There is something mysterious and majestic about them: viewed through Robertson’s artistic lens, the housekeeper from Leur becomes an earthly Madonna. But few people are aware that three versions of this composition exist. The complete series is on display in this exhibition – a unique occurrence,’ according to Suzanne Veldink, guest curator at Museum Panorama Mesdag.
Herald of expressionism
Through her expressive manner of drawing and painting, Robertson elevated art to new heights at the dawn of the twentieth century. The virtuosity with which she applied her media evinces a deeply driven character. In her work, line and colour are no longer merely in service to the goal of depicting the visible world as faithfully as possible, but have themselves become a means of conveying emotion. Robertson’s personal quest ushered in the end of the impressionism favoured by The Hague School and established her position as a pioneer of modern art in the Netherlands: a herald of expressionism.
Museum director Minke Schat: ‘Museum Panorama Mesdag has a special connection to Suze Robertson and her art. The founders of the museum – Hendrik Willem Mesdag and Sientje Mesdag-van Houten – were friends of hers. They collected her work and they, too, exhibited Suze Robertson’s art in the museum in their own day. We feel confident that this exhibition and the accompanying publication will ensure that, one hundred years after her death, Robertson is given her rightful place in the art historical canon of the Netherlands. It’s about time.’
The exhibition Suze Robertson. Dedicated. Individualistic. Modern. will be on display from 24.09.2022 through 05.03.2023 in Museum Panorama Mesdag in The Hague.