Jaap van Dam

Artist:  Jaap van Dam (Dutch, 1876-1972)

Medium: Oil on canvas.

Size: 14” high x 22” wide.

Date: Ca. 1920’s-1940’s

Signature: Signed lower left “Jaap van Dam”

About:  An oil painting depicting the Rotterdam Canal in the Netherlands, with a canal with a docked sail boat. This is a rare painting by van Dam. Very few of his paintings are known.

Item  B183






B183 Jaap van Dam Dutch Boat Canal Painting web 1a

Jaap van Dam Biography

Dutch (1876-1972)

Jaap van Dam was a set designer and artist from the early twentieth century.

Jaap van Dam was born in Delfshaven. He learned his trade at the Academy of Fine Arts and Technical Sciences in Rotterdam. He worked in advertising, such as the Cocoa and Chocolate Factory Ringers and the brand Owl cigar factory Boele. Later, Van Dam also designed interiors, and for the theater.  In 1910 he moved to Amsterdam.

His decorations were in line with the development of new decor ideas of his time. For centuries it was a setting system in use of painted scenery, which gave an illusion of reality (see Slingelandt Theatre). He used a purer realism, with real materials and real furniture.

There also was a trend that  realism renounced as a whole. It was no longer the representation of visible reality, but at the suggestion of the higher, mysterious soul. Abstract shapes, color and light were to suggest deep and universal feelings. There were three-dimensional structures with arches, stairs and curtains, because it was felt that theater play no art in the plane, but in space. Known designers who worked in this way were Frits Lensvelt and Henry Wijdeveld. They showed their designs in 1922 at the International Theatre Exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.  Jaap van Dam was represented there.

Characteristic of the designs of Van Dam is the frequent use of architectural arches. Some are abstract, and others are drawn realistically. Van Dam took advantage of ornamental lines and images from nature, or drew symmetrical and tight. He also designed expressionist sets with crooked lines and geometric shapes. Some landscapes are stilled. Other images are magical.

Van Dam worked for different types of theater. The entertainment scene flourished through with operetta and revue performances in Flora, the Palace of Industry, Carré and the Rembrandt Theater. Van Dam designed sets for different operettas, and revues of famous authors: Henriter Hall, Rido, Louis Bouwmeester jr and René Schleswig.  He designed sets for classical and contemporary drama for the Dutch Theatre and the Grand Theatre, which was played by Dutch companies, but also avant-garde forces from abroad.