Provenance: Ivo Bouwman
Van Gogh, Monet, Isaac Israels, Van Dongen, Jongkind, Breitner: a roll call of major artists whose works often come with the label ‘Provenance: Ivo Bouwman’. Bouwman is a Hague art dealer and certified art appraiser specialising in Dutch and French paintings from the period around 1900. Over the last forty years he has sold many fine works to private collectors, organizations and museums. To mark the fortieth anniversary of his art dealership, the Gemeentemuseum has asked Bouwman to exhibit a selection of top works sold by him in the course of his career. The result is worth seeing: Provenance: Ivo Bouwman may be a small exhibition, but visitors will be entranced by the outstanding quality of each of the paintings on show.
Fans of turn-of-the-century art will revel in this spring show at the Gemeentemuseum. Some 25 pearls of the period around 1900 will be on display in the intimate setting of the Willem Cordia room. They range from Claude Monet’s Coastal landscape in Normandy to Vincent van Gogh’s Jardin de Presbytère, and from two portraits by Kees van Dongen to G.H. Breitner’s small but splendid Three Schoolgirls. Other major artists featured in the show will include J.B. Jongkind, Jan Toorop, Marc Chagall and Jan Sluijters. Three of the exhibits are now in the collection of the Van Gogh Museum. Since Bouwman feels that many artists are unjustly eclipsed by more famous contemporaries, he has also included a work by a less widely known artist – Raimundo de Madrazo Y Garetta’s Hommage à Manet: a painting that is likewise of exceptional merit.
Ivo Bouwman became interested in art at a very early age. He was just sixteen when he bought his first artwork. In his youth, he worked for a number of years as a volunteer with Hans Cramer, a dealer in Old Masters, and was a regular visitor to exhibitions. However, it was his enthusiastic tutor in art history during his degree course in interior design at The Hague’s Royal Academy of Art (KABK) who inspired him to opt for a career in the art world. On graduating, he worked as Cramer’s assistant for a year and then spent two years travelling the world, training his eye at auctions and in museums and galleries. Bouwman says few people really look properly at paintings. “But you have to train yourself. You have to learn to see that certain aspects or details determine whether something is a masterpiece or not.”
Bouwman opened his first gallery in 1972 on the Laan van Meerdervoort and later moved to the Lange Voorhout. That was where his business really took off in the 1970s, due in part to a major exhibition on Jan Sluijters. Along with Jongkind, Isaac Israels and Leo Gestel, Sluijters is one of the renowned artists who have played an important role in Bouwman’s life. Over the years, Bouwman has established an excellent national and international reputation. He was among the earliest participants in TEFAF Maastricht and for the last 21 years he has made regular appearances as an expert on the popular Dutch TV programme Tussen Kunst en Kitsch (similar to British TV’s Antiques Road Show). His current dealership is located in The Hague’s Jan van Nassaustraat.
Although Bouwman has never sold a painting to the Gemeentemuseum, he has cordial links with the institution. In the past, he was in regular close touch both with Victorine Hefting, the Netherlands’ first ever female museum director and a great expert on Jongkind, and with museum researcher and Isaac Israels expert Anna Wagner. He has also helped to curate exhibitions, for example in partnership with John Sillevis.
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