Realism Technique

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Updated: Jun 29, 2022
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Petrus van der Velden is an oil painter from the 19th Century. Van der Velden was born in Rotterdam. He uses the realism technique to portray his art on the New Zealand landscape to show the true landscape. He immigrated from the Netherlands in 1890 with his wife and children. He arrived in Christchurch where he and his family stayed till 1898. Where he had been associated with the Hague School of realist painters. They concentrated on portraying modern life, particularly the life of the poor and downtrodden.

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][nz history]. He later returned after his wife passed away in Australia to marry his second wife in Wellington. When he arrived, he had already established a reputation in many Dutch art circles. In the Netherlands, he focussed on everyday people, whereas when he arrived in New Zealand he became inspired by the landscape and scenery. He started capturing the rugged landscape in raw expressive paintings. While Van der Velden was in New Zealand, he made the most lasting contribution as a landscape painter. Van der Velden died in 1913 and there was an exhibition dedicated to his memory and legacy at the Te Papa Museum in Wellington. Van der Velden was solely committed to be an artist who entirely lived for their art or from their teaching of it. Their devotion ultimately meant that their families suffered because he spent all his time working on his art. Van der Velden had his artworks in many exhibitions around the world such as; Te Papa in Wellington, Arti et Amicitiae society in Amsterdam, Pulchri Studio, Scotland and many more.

He had a job as a lithographic firm with his friend when it started to struggle so he capitalised on his misfortunes and turned to painting. Which was something that he had wished he was doing for a while. His first artworks were based on the local harbours, he hired a boat to paint the Rotterdam Harbour. He ended up training at the Rotterdam Academy of Art and the Academy in Berlin. Due to the war which occurred while he was over there, he had to cut his studies short and return to the Netherlands and continued his marine studies. His artwork was inspired by his surroundings. He taught many well-known Dutch painters such as Suze Robertson, who is an expressionist urban subject. The stylistic origins are clearly to be found in his atmospheric mood. His art is realism of romantic origin because the approach to nature is essentially romantic and romanticism continues throughout Van der Velden’s work sometimes sentimentally, mostly controlled in the richly evocative metaphor (Otira Gorge) where naturalism is elevated to be a spiritual plane by the suggestion of supernatural forces present in nature. Prior to him moving to New Zealand, he was known for his genre pieces. He did produce landscapes, but when he came to New Zealand he liked the untamed, wilderness landscape of New Zealand he decided to move away from the restricted tonal colouration and tighter use of paint in his early pieces. The powerful torrents of the water (Otira Gorge) represents a work of God, which is untouched by man and his images of Otira Gorge is a sublime example of his style of painting. He moved towards a richer colour and greater breadth of handling, it still retains his grey palette.

The artwork is realism/realistic because it portrays the surroundings precisely as they appear. Realism began in the 19th Century that is why he started to use this technique. These paintings also use the technique of romanticism and sublime which emphasises the power of nature and the wonders of God’s creation. His exhibitions are made up of paintings, sketches which showcase his unique approach to art. The artworks which are displayed at The Christchurch Art Gallery are only a few of his paintings for example; Jacksons, Otira (1893) and Mountains Stream, Otira Gorge (1893). The artworks are painted with oil paints to add detail and convey more texture to the prints. The oil paints add a depth to the artwork which gives it character. The vibrant colours catch your eye and add an effect to the painting which helps with the depth.

He was one of the artists which brought change into New Zealand art. As well as a few other men Van der Velden shared many characteristics with them such as their status, training as professional artists and their European Heritage. Their impact was reinforced later by a few other artists a decade later. They were drawn to oil paintings because of the innovative European style. Even though Van der Velden lived in New Zealand for a while he kept his Dutch characteristics in his paintings such as the interest in the qualities of light and the peasant genre. He tends to paint his subjects of a melancholy nature. “ The main source of his inspiration was in the Otira Gorge during his stay in New Zealand from 1890-1898. There is a dramatic opposition to light and dark in some of his art which shows the unrestrained forces of nature, which is quite common in Dutch paintings.”

This is the artist which I was given in class and Petrus van der Velden captures New Zealand’s landscape into his artwork. It is showing the real New Zealand. The oil paints add a depth to the artwork which shows the landscape at its best and it conveys a more vibrant and textured setting. This gives the painting a greater depth to it, adding to the realism of the painting. The vibrant colours are alluring and catch the eye of the viewer, as well as adding the wanted effect to the mood of the painting. For example, by adding beauty, peace, tranquillity and sometimes an ominous feeling.

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Realism Technique. (2022, Jun 28). Retrieved from