(b. 1858, Purworejo, Java, d. 1928, Den Haag)

Delft Salad Oil ('Delftsche Slaolie')

Colour lithography, 95 x 60 cm
Kunstmuseum Den Haag, The Hague

Jan Toorop ranks alongside Van Gogh and Piet Mondrian as one of the most important Dutch artists around 1900. All three took their bearings from the latest international developments in the art of their time, and all three produced work that influenced other artists. For example, Toorop was a major source of inspiration for Gustav Klimt.

Toorop's work is popular with the general public in the Netherlands and is often associated with Art Nouveau, mainly because of his well-known advertising poster for Delft salad oil. Indeed, this poster is so well-known in the Netherlands that Art Nouveau is often called 'slaoliestijl' (= "salad oil style'). Fewer people are aware that Toorop worked in many other styles. He also produced Neo-Impressionist, Pointillist and Symbolist paintings and his innovations in painting included the use of flat areas of colour. It used to be thought that he switched constantly between these styles, but recent research has revealed a clear line in his artistic development. He responded to his environment and regularly modified existing works. In this respect, he was an extremely progressive artist.

The manufacturer of Delft Salad Oil commissioned from Jan Toorop a poster with his "holy", dream figures of women. Crimped into the ornamentation of their duplicated hair, with exaggeratedly gothicized, long-fingered hands that protrude chastely from the huge puffed sleeves like priceless revelations, they clutch a bottle of oil and a serving spoon.

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