Lot 6
Indonesian Art Sale | 8 September 2021
Harm Kamerlingh Onnes (1893-1985)

An Indonesian street scene with an ox cart

signed with initials 'H.K.O.' (lower right)

oil on cardboard, 62x75 cm

Harm Kamerlingh Onnes (Zoeterwoude-Dorp 1893 - Leiden 1985) was an artist who followed his own path for almost the entire 20th Century. In the period between 1914 and 1935 he was a seeking modernist who maintained contacts with avant-garde movements. From 1935 until his death, he achieved his own realistic, narrative style. In December 1922 at the age of 29, Harm, together with his uncle Dolf from Genoa, departed with the ship ‘De Vondel’ on a 7-month journey to the Dutch East Indies, China and Japan. Uncle Dolf was an established businessman and owner-director of the well-known administrative office of Kamerlingh Onnes in Medan that handled the affairs of various firms and plantation companies. During the journey Harm wrote letters to his family in Oegstgeest which he illustrated himself. He was a fluent writer and in 1922, already for a number of years, a professional artist and designer. He had his own, rather direct style of painting. In his letters he takes the reader on board of ‘De Vondel’ through the streets of Port Saïd, Colombo and Medan, and gives an impression of China and Japan.

Harm describes how he paints on shelfs of rubber crates which are made of plywood that does not crack. He draws and takes photographs whilst travelling, and collects material for his later drawings and paintings. His letters, illuminated with sketches, show for the first time how he was fascinated by the observation of people with all their peculiarities. They stayed in the vicinity of Medan until the beginning of April 1923. On a trip to Sumatra in March 1923 he sees ox carts on the road and wrote: ‘the white oxen look impassively with their dark eyes’. He has to get used to the colours in the Dutch East Indies which are drier than he is accustomed to. The range of colours that we see in the painting of the ox cart now on offer can also be seen in other works that he made in that period.

Marjolein Regout Source: D.A. Buiskool, Dirk A., R. Kousbroek, ‘De reis van Harm Kamerlingh Onnes, Brieven uit de Oost 1922-1923’, Hilversum 1999

For this artist resale right is applicable from €2400 hammer price onwards

€ 700,00
€ 900,00
€ 700,00

Hamerprijs: € 700