3 years in the life of a shadowy Dutch artist in a cloak and hat. The revealing 1800s visual diaries of Christiaan Andriessen. The Amsterdam Drawing Academy wouldn’t let him draw female nudes so he left to set up a studio at home.

February 28 1808. “In deep thought.”
Christiaan Andriessen, smoking pipe and deeply thinking in the coffee house.
Jurriaan Andriessen. Self -portrait, (after 1800).
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.
Andriessen’s father was the Dutch decorative painter, graphic artist and teacher, Jurriaan Andriessen (1742-1819)

Between 1805 and 1808, the Amsterdam artist Christiaan Andriessen kept a diary; a visual diary with over 700 drawings and watercolors depicting the the goings on in his life, with his friends, family and events in the city. Christiaan came from a family who encouraged his artistic pursuits; his father was the Dutch decorative painter, graphic artist and teacher, Jurriaan Andriessen (1742-1819). Jurriaan was also a meticulous diary keeper and the Rijksmuseum holds 20 years of his diaries. Perhaps that’s where his son got the diary keeping habit. Christiaan initially attended the Amsterdam Drawing Academy but left after the insititution refused to allow the drawing of female nudes from life. He and his father founded a college in their home where the young Christiaan could draw and paint naked ladies to his heart’s content. At the time of the diary, Christiaan’s father was partially paralysed by a stroke he suffered in 1799 and his sister, Naatje was ridden with gout.

The dark figure we often see from the back? That’s him. Christiaan often represents himself as a shadowy figure, sometimes wearing a hat and/or a cloak. He smokes a pipe which, in one drawing, he lights using a magnifying glass and the sunshine that streams in through his study window. The entries feature his student Miss Willemina Balk, his child drawing pupils, his stroke paralysed father, Naatje his gout-ridden sister, trouble with the maids, his search for nude models, his mother trying to matchmake him with a wife, events in the city and the daily minutae of an artist in Amsterdam.

Christiaan’s visual diary is unique. At times funny, at others deathly dark, these random frames form an elegant 1800s Dutch Golden Age non-fiction cartoon strip give us an incredibly vivid window into 2 years in the life of a privileged B-list Amsterdam artist.


5 January 1805. “That is an awful case.”
Christiaan Andriessen (by the fire) shows the diary of 4 January 1805 to his father (in his dressing gown and slippers) and his uncle,
in the family studio on the Zonnhofje.
25 March 1805. “That resembles me.”
Andriessen draws a silhouette portrait of one of his female students on a sheet of paper, which is held up by two other students.
Two diary drawings on 1 sheet.
LEFT; 7 August 1805. “Again wasting my time drawing borders on canvases.”
Andriessen is drawing borders on wallpaper for a client in Weesp.

RIGHT; 8 August 1805. “What a wonderful moonshine that is.”
Christiaan’s sister Johanna (‘Naatje’) Andriessen, enjoys the moonlight on the sidewalk outside the house.
19 November (unknown year) “Arrival of the orphan barge on the Buiten Amstel.”
December 4 1805. “The print shop from Maaskamp.”
1 Feb 1806. “Oh dear, I lost my earring there. Then we have to look for wagons.”
Miss Willemina Balk, from Berbice and a pupil of Christaan ​​Andriessen since the end of 1805, has lost her earring. Bystanders, presumably Christiaan with his two sisters, help with the search. This street scene takes place on the Skinny Bridge.
July 2 1806. “You look now first and then I will read.”
Christiaan Andriessen shows his diary to his family. It may be the paper of June 30, which has a long caption in ciphertext.
29 January 1806. “hoezee, hoezee, hoezee! Cobbler grease leather; celebrating the 25th anniversary of
mej. LFM Gallas with my aunts J. Noordziek and AM Noordziek.”

House party with music and dancing to celebrate the 25th anniversary aunts Mietje and Naatje Noordziek living together
with Miss Louisa Gallas.
18 June 1805. “The Ganimedes with the belly.”
At the Andriessen home academy, a scene with 2 nude male models posing as Zeus and Ganymede.
Apparently the Ganymede with the “belly” turned out a bit too fat for Andriessen’s liking.
21 July 1805. “2 hours shortly after the death of my friend L. Wicky.”
The death chamber of Louis Zamore van Wicky, the commensal of the Andriessen family, shortly after his death.
Christiaan is holding up a candle to see the body.
Two diary drawings on 1 sheet.
LEFT: August 1805 “Mins Raabe. Nowadays not much time to make more of it.”
An unidentifiable Miss Raabe with a canopy hat.
RIGHT: 3 August 1805 “We are like the literate death…where from? Jans died last night.
Suddnely we get the message from the hospital.”

A message about the death of the maid Jans (Johanna Geertruy van Dietren), at 39 years old
Nov 12 1905. “Landscape of the Hogers van Nimwegen, being a view of the environs of the belvedere in Nimwegen.
By candlelight, four men look at a watercolor by the Nijmegen artist Hendrik Hoogers (1747-1814) depicting the ruins of the Barbarossa chapel and the Belvedère under a rainbow. The apse of this Romanesque chapel is a remnant of the Valkhof in Nijmegen. The drawing was Hoogers’ submission for a competition by Felix Meritis concerning ‘a landscape with ruin’ in 1805. Today the watercolor is part of the collection of Museum Het Valkhof.
17 Jan 1806. “An oil cookie stand at night.”
11 January 1806. “In many monasteries one seldom goes beyond the speaking gate, but here I am already in the bedroom.”
Andriessen visits two young ladies, possibly Pauls and Willemina Balk.The scene may take place in the neighborhood around Singel and Kalverstraat, and Andriessen is looking for a model for his ‘women’s college’ in April 1805.
22 Feb 1806. “Behold, now all you have been properly checked.”
In the kitchen of the Andriessen family, a bailiff interrogates a maid who has been accused of theft. Christiaan is there on the right,
in a robe with a nightcap, his father Jurriaan and three unidentifiable ladies.
15 March 1806. “The sun is shining so nicely here.”
Andriessen lights his pipe with a magnifying glass by his study window.
7 March 1806. “I will sleep on it.”
Andriessen’s mother tries to pair Christiaan with Miss Van Holst. Niece Kelet listens.
4 April 1806. “Le pont des amoureux; today troops from the campaign come from Germany to keep garrisons here.”
The quay along the Binnen Amstel at the Hogesluis. On th left is Andriessen, recognizable by the coat and hat. The second part of the caption relates to the return to Holland of the Batavian division under command of JB Dumonceau,
which had been stationed along the Danube.
15 April 1806. “Coosie van Hoorn.”
It’s thought that this drawing suggests the arrival of a model (Coosie) who comes to pose naked for the first time in front of
the so-called “women’s college” at Jurriaan and Christiaan ‘s home.
28 May 1806. “Haarlem orphans.”
Adult orphans from Haarlem walk along the Amstel.
2 May (unknown year). “Illumination on the high lock on the occasion of the birth of the young prince.”
3 July 1806. “Be careful, I believe there is a pole.”
Two men, probably Christiaan with his father Jurriaan, in the night fog.
20 July 1806. “la chambre obscure”
Andriessen draws himself standing in the doorway out onto the sidewalk of Amstel 95, looking at the world through a camera obscura.
27 October 1806.
“A flattened nose and mouth against the glass.”
31 July 1906. “Strange plants in the garden of Mr. Schallig.
Exotic plants in the garden of Jan Hendrik Schallig, whose daughter Geertruijda a pupil of Andriessen’s.
16 September 1806. “The vapor of the dew and the clearness in the drop shadow gave a nice effect.”
Andriessen walks in the Nieuwe Kerkstraat, seen from the bridge over the Muidergracht to the Plantage Kerklaan.
He’s drawn the effect of the shadow as it appears on the water vapor in the atmosphere.
8 October 1806 “The Poffertjes stalls empty a room, sir.”
A poffertjes (sweet pastries) stall at the fair at night.
In the doorway a man with a belly organ talks to one of two two female musicians inside a lit room.
1 November 1806. “The young gentlemen Vereul. Be careful, don’t fall off the table.”
The 5 Vereul boys around a cage with a parrot, Andriessen is on the right and two ladies on the left. The boys are the sons of lawyer and literary expert Jan Jacob Vereul whose family lived at 571 Herengracht.
24 November 1806. “The Funeral of Theodoor Gülcher.”
Gülcher was a neighbour & lived opposite so Andriessen likely drew this from his window. On the right, in front of number 502, the procession of Theodoor Gülcher’s funeral is beginning. Gülcher had owned Herengracht 502 since 1804; before that he lived at 205 Keizersgracht, where in 1798 he had wallpaper painted by Jurriaan Andriessen.
30 December 1806. “German coffee; Herr Hoffmann.”
Andriessen with FA Hoffmann, an acquaintance from Stuttgart, in the German Coffee House. Hoffmann uses a bellows to light a fire under the coffee kettle. Hoffmann also appears in the journal sheet of March 3, 1807, in a similar scene but at a different location. In the 2nd scene with Hoffman, there’s no fireplace with a fire baske as here, but an iron stove
10 November (unknown year) “Jaap you still need more money?”
30 November 1807. “Damp and foggy weather almost every day.”
23 February 1807. “Keep your fire and candle. The clock is ten; ten is the clock.”
The Binnen-Amstel by moonlight, seen from the Skinny Bridge.
18 May 1807. “Mon Attelier.”
The studio of Christiaan Andriessen on the first floor front of Amstel 95.
5 June 1807. “Drinking tea on the Buthe in the new Priëel”
The gazebo in the garden of the De Buthe country estate of the Scheltema family, located near Brummen in the Zutphen area.
Andriessen and the Scheltema family drink tea in the gazebo.
Oct 18 1807. “My sister on the gout.”
Naatje Andriessen is wrapped up warm in bed to relieve the gout. The family is gathered around her.
17 December (unknown year). “Action at the Academy.”
4 January 1908. “A Delicious Mass.”
11 Feb 1808. “Mr. Teschemacher’s and Mr. Levy’s family with me.”
An art appreciation session at the home of Christiaan Andriessen.
12 February 1808. “Amstel at the Heerengracht.”
Snowstorm on the Amstel in front of number 216. Andriessen leans forward into the snow.
20 February 1908. “The use of the hot bath by my sister for the gout.”
Inside the Andriessen house, Amstel 95, Christian’s sister Naatje gets a warm bath for her gout.
3 March 1908. “Had a caffe at deer Herr Hoffman.”
Andriessen and FA Hoffman drink coffee at Hoffman’s house. Hoffman was born in Stuttgart in 1778 and was registered at the Amsterdam Drawing Academy in 1809-1810 as a pupil of Jurriaan Andriessen. The pair sit by the mantelpiece, in which an iron stove has been placed. After drinking coffee, Andriessen attended the last performance of the opera Pygmalion, in the Hoog German Schouwburg in the Amstelstraat. Andriessen portrayed drinking coffee at Hoffmann’s for the first time in another diary entry dated December 30, 1806.
1 November (unknown year). “Musica, Air chanté par madame Colin.”
27 October 1908. “2nd session of the 1st action of the new model…Caroline van Elberfeld; 43rd week ”
Reclining female nude model at the drawing college of the Andriessen family at home (the ‘women’s college’).
Caroline appears on the journal paper of December 8, 1808 (below).
8 December 1808. “2nd attitude of the red. Carolina van Elbenfeld 49th week.”
Andriessen draws the red-haired Carolina van Elbenfeld once more, this time as a mythological reclining
female damsel in distress with 2 satyrs.

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