Jan (Jean) Theodoor Toorop was born on December 20, 1858, in Purworejo, Java. In 1869 he moved to the Netherlands, where he attended high school in Leiden and Winterswijk. In 1875 Toorop moved to The Hague and became a pupil of H.J. van der Weele. A year later he enrolled at the Polytechnic of Delft and studied under Paul Tétar van Elven. He then went on to the National Academy for the Arts in Amsterdam and took lessons with August Allebé. During this period he met Jan Veth and Antoon Derkinderen, joined the St. Lucas Association and admired the work of Jules Bastien-Lepage, Edouard Manet and James Ensor.

Between 1882 and 1886 Toorop lived in Brussels, where he attended the Academy of Fine Arts. In these years he joined the association L’Ensor (1883) and the group Les XX (1884), he exhibited with the Groupe des Artistes Indépendants in Paris (1884) and had his first solo exhibition in 1885. While sojourning in Brussels, he travelled to England on two occasions, meeting James Whistler and becoming acquainted with William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites. In 1886 Toorop married Annie Hall and in 1889 the couple moved to England, where they lived for several years while spending the summers in diverse Dutch coastal towns. During his stays in the Netherlands, Toorop associated with the Tachtigers group and became progressively influenced by Symbolism.

In 1892 Toorop exhibited at the Salon de la Rose + Croix, Paris, and at the Circle for the Arts, The Hague, of which he was a founding member. In the mid 1890s, he adopted Art Nouveau and produced several commercial posters and advertisements. In 1898 he exhibited his work in Munich, Dresden and Copenhagen and a year later he moved permanently to the Dutch town of Katwijk, where he lived until 1904. In 1900 he participated in the Viennese Secession with great success. In 1905 he converted to Roman Catholicism and changed his name to Johannes; he divorced from his wife shortly after. In 1908 he moved from Amsterdam to Nijmegen and in 1916 again to The Hague. From 1917 he suffered from partial paralysis that affected his late production, imbued with religion and mysticism. Toorop died in The Hague, The Netherlands, on March 3, 1928.


Jan Theodoor Toorop


ca. 1920