Lot 82
Indonesian Art Auction | 24 November 2022
Willem Gerard Hofker (1902-1981)

Sculptures of Rakshasa guarding the entrance of a temple

signed, annotated and dated 'W.G. Hofker / Bali 1938' (upper left); signed and dated again, and titled 'Raksahsals' (on the reverse)

oil on canvas, 38x27 cm

-From the collection of Dr. J.W. de Stoppelaar (1895-1956), who was an Assistent Resident in Indonesia. Thence by decent to the present owner.

The Dutch artist Willem Gerard Hofker (1902-1981) had received his education at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam from 1918 till 1924. He was an excellent painter, etcher and draftsman of cityscapes, rural scenes and worked by model. He was able to build up a modest existence in Amsterdam from the portrait commissions that came steadily. In the year of his marriage to Maria Rueter, at the age of 28 , Willem received the honorable commission of the Dutch shipping company ‘Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschapij’ (KPM) , to paint an official portrait of H.M. Queen Wilhelmina for her upcoming 40 year reining jubilee in 1938. Once completed he was asked to deliver the State Portrait personally in Batavia (Jakarta) where it was intended to be hung at the head office of KMP located at Koningsplein.

In preparation for this trip, Willem and Maria had attended a language course in the Malay language at the Colonial Institute in Amsterdam. A photo from the family album, in which all students present posed on the stairs in front of the Cultural and Physical Anthropology Department on the Linnaeusstraat 2, shows a serious looking Hofker. A determined look, ready to take any challenge a new life in an unknown country would bring.

Once in Bali, after a few months stay in Batavia ( Jakarta) and its surrounding cities, the Hofkers experienced an overwhelming sensation that they could not have been prepared for. In every written letter or postcard from the early 1938 on, the most, and in abundance, was written about how incredibly beautiful nature and architecture was. Especially the temples and huge gates with their richly decorated sculptures in Bali were a revelation to the young artist couple ‘ It is of a quality like our best 16th century buildings such as the town hall in Leiden’ thus Willem defined it on the 15th of June 1938.

This presented painting, an oil on canvas, with the title ‘Raksahsals’ (plural Rakshasa sculpture ) written on the back of the canvas was made by Hofker in the first few weeks of his stay in Bali. Maria made a series of notes in the diary that Willem had gone to the temple gate. And that on June 16 1938, Willem had put the finishing touches on the temple gate and continued to another gate in the afternoon.

This other gate was, as far as we know, the very first subject in Bali that Hofker put in oil on the canvas. It is known as Candi Bentar Temple, Sukawati 1938. It shows the split gate, a Candi Bentar, and is located on today's Jalan Raya in Sukawati. In fact it is an entrance gate to a courtyard where a larger gate made of red brick is situated behind. That gate is called the Kori Agung and has Rakshasa statues as gatekeepers on either side of the doorway, which were captured by Hofker, here in this presented painting.

It is a unique and rare early painting made by Hofker on location in the Regency of Gianyar in Bali. It shows us a part of the residence of the Puri Ageng, the palace of The Royal Family of Sukawati.

© Seline Hofker October 2022

A Rakshasa is a demon or unrighteous spirit in Hindu mythology. Rakshasas are also called man-eaters.

Voor deze kunstenaar is volgrecht van toepassing vanaf een hamerprijs van € 2400.

€ 8.000,00
€ 10.000,00
€ 7.000,00

Hamerprijs: € 7.000