The Illustrator

While Jo was employed by the Hydrographic Office of the Netherlands Navy as a draftsman from 1947-1967, his education and ambition was as an artist. He used those skills after hours as a freelancer and illustrated various books.
In the mid fifties, he illustrated an album for Hooimeijer, a Dutch rusk (beschuit) maker. The Youtube video below  gives an overview (in Dutch) of the company, including archival footage and showing off the albums of collectors’ pictures which were included in the product.

Customers would purchase the album with a place for all the pictures. The  illustrations (all with a marine theme) were done by Frans Naerebout and the last album together with Jo . I don’t remember the reason  why Jo was asked to take over illustrating the album.  No doubt Jo’s brother-in-law (Wim), who  worked for Hooimeijer had something to do with that… I think that there was a contractual dispute with Frans.

A subsequent album was cancelled before completion in the mid-late fifties. The album cover for that unpublished volume, featuring  a Hydrofoil, was subsequently used in an exhibition by Leclanche , at which time the title was painted over ( you can see the remains of the title still….)

When returned, it found a place on the wall in my (Marius’) room in The Hague and subsequently followed us to Australia.
The picture frame had been built to last the duration of an exhibition, but lasted 60 years until I dropped it recently.  So I got it re-framed last week and it adorns my wall again.

A picture that’s much more than just a boat…

People mentioned in this article:

Johannes Cornelis Coomans [picstory]
Willem Kooij [picstory] [picstory]
Marius Hendrik Coomans [picstory]

Need a password to access Email Marius

Real or not?

While rummaging through Dad’s papers for items to archive to (yes, there is still much more to discover), I found some pages of “Het Kompas”, a newspaper from August 1945, originally 32 pages long. Unfortunately only the wrap-around pages survive.

It was the peacetime version of a second World War underground news sheet. It’s clear why Dad kept this copy, the front page is all about the famous forger of Vermeer’s paintings, Han van Meegeren, who had recently been arrested.

Why was this of interest to Dad (Jo Coomans)? As the story goes, he found occasional work during the war by copying valuable paintings, so owners could store the original away. The painting below is one of these copies, supposedly returned to him after the war.

Click for higher resolution version

Also, immediately after the war, he worked for a short time with an entrepreneur who sold souvenir paintings to the liberating troops,  the usual windmill/canal views. So the controversy about  van Meegeren and his Vermeer-like paintings would have been of interest to a budding painter like Jo.

Anyway… the remaining pages of the newspaper are just as interesting, read on…

Continue reading Real or not?