The forgotten fish oils of Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof.

Portrait of G.W. Dijsselhof, attributed to Willem Witsen, 1892.
Where it all started for young Gerrit: Natura Artis Magistra, Amsterdam. The members only private zoo where Dijsselhof discovered his piscatrial muse in 1882 after “The Artis”,
as it was known, opened it’s aquarium.

Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof (1866 – 1924), was a Dutch painter heavily involved in the arts and crafts movement.

Born in Zwollerkerspel, Dijsselhof studied first at the art academy in The Hague, then moved to Amsterdam in 1884 to follow lessons at the arts and crafts school there. He was an enthusiastic member of the Natura Artis Magistra, a members only zoo.

In 1882, the “Artis” installed an aquarium & Dijsselhof became fascinated with it, perhaps obsessed. He’d go there every single afternoon after his studies at the Arts & Crafts Academy & spent countless hours studying the hypnotic movements of the fish, their textures, the curious abstractions of the water, the way they shoaled and moved together. This other world became his world.

Initially Dijsselhof began sketching and painting the fish in watercolours. He then moved on to oils, producing canvas after canvas. From 1897 he worked on furniture design for the firm E. J. van Wisselingh & Co, Amsterdam. He married the textile artist Willy Keuchenius.

Today his work is sought after by a small base of collectors who happily pay sums up to €20,000 at auction in order to possess one of his unique aquarium oil paintings.

Aquarium met goudwinde.
Aquarium with gold winds, Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof (1876 – 1924).
Goud en zilvervisjes in een aquarium.
Gold and silver fish in an aquarium. Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof (1876 – 1924).
Snoek en baars in een aquarium.
Pike and Perch in an Aquarium Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof (1876 – 1924).
Goldfish. Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof (1876 – 1924).
Vis in een aquarium.
Fish in an Aquarium, Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof (1876 – 1924).
Aquarium met drie Noordzee vissen- Zeekreeft, Hondshaai en Schol.
Aquarium with three North Sea fish – Lobster, Dogfish and Plaice, Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof (1876 – 1924).
School ponen en een rog, School ponen en een rog.
School mullets and a stingray, Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof (1876 – 1924).
Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof (1876 – 1924).
Goldfish, Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof (1876 – 1924).
Goldfish, Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof (1876 – 1924).
Carps and anemones, Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof (1876 – 1924).
Goldfish, Carps and anemones. Undated.

Fish & aquariums weren’t Dijsselhof’s only subject matter, just his principle & favourite one. Here are some of the lithograph “tribute” studies he made of the Circus Carré:

Schijnwerper over de toeschouwers op de tribunes van Circus Carré, Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof, 1876 – 1924.
Clown_in_de_ring_van_Circus_Carré,_1876 and 1924.
Schijnwerper op de ring van Circus Carré, Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof, 1876 – 1924.

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