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Late Visitors to Pompeii

Late Visitors to Pompeii

Carel Willink (in 1931)

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  • Gabriela asked

    Hello,
    I was wondering how you could interpret or analyze this painting.

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Gabiela, recently we received a similar question which we answered thus: "It is plausible that in this painting Carel Willink condenses numerous symbolic elements drawn from reality, which together create a Surrealist composition. The human figures depict the artist himself in three stages of life, while the bald figure from behind is a person Willink esteemed named Oswald Spengler. The fact that these men are in the midst of the ruins of an ancient city makes us think of the decay and destruction. If we then consider that these men are dressed according to 20th-century fashion and that they are in this almost apocalyptic landscape with the volcano (near Pompeii, as the title suggests) still blowing smoke, it is likely that the artist realized this scene as a metaphor for the decay of modern society.". Our answers are published on the website, so check if your question has been answered already so you don't have to wait. Kind regards, Els

  • Richelle asked

    did he use his imagination or did he observe them

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Richelle,
    It is plausible that in this painting Carel Willink condenses numerous symbolic elements drawn from reality, which together create a Surrealist composition. The human figures depict the artist himself in three stages of life, while the bald figure from behind is a person Willink esteemed named Oswald Spengler. The fact that these men are in the midst of the ruins of an ancient city makes us think of the decay and destruction. If we then consider that these men are dressed according to 20th-century fashion and that they are in this almost apocalyptic landscape with the volcano (near Pompeii, as the title suggests) still blowing smoke, it is likely that the artist realized this scene as a metaphor for the decay of modern society. Kind regards, Mara

  • hmai asked

    Which museum acquired the painting and what does the painting really mean?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Rosien, this painting was acquired by Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in the 1930s, after the museum organized an exhibition about Carel Willink. It is very difficult to pinpoint its meaning, since it appears a vision rather than recording visual reality. We see contemporary (or at least 20th century) men in between the ruins of classical buildings against a mountainous landscape. One of the mountains is a volcano, smoking just a bit. By referring to Pompeï in the title, Willink might have wanted to make us think of the destruction of this complete city by the unexpected outbreak of mount Vesuvius two thousand years earlier. Maybe the artist wanted to express that at the beginning of the 1930's again 'a volcano' was at the verge of breaking out. Kind regards, Els

  • Ha My asked

    What technique is Carel Willink known for in his paintings like "Late Visitors to Pompeii"?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Ha My, Carel Willink started his artistic career at the beginning of the 1920's and first experimented with modern painting styles and techniques like cubism and orphism. At the beginning of the1930's he turned to the illusionistic painting techniques of the old master, like the famous Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí, to create strange and unsettling images which appear to be very real. Kind regards, Els

  • Quan asked

    Why is pompeii? not another city

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Quan, Thanks for your question. It is not easy to give a satisfying answer, because the artist gave the painting it's title and is the only one who really knows. Moreoevr it is a Surrealist work in which different realities meet to creat a strange new one. The image though has some suggestions of Pompeï: the smoking mountain can be the volcano Vesuvius which made the antique Pompeï disappear under lava. The classical ruins might refer to the lost city. Kind regards, Els

  • Lisa asked

    Is it possible the figure in the foreground with hands folded is Jan Willink, Carel Willink's brother? Are there any photographs or portraits of Jan?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Lisa, Last year Silvia Willink, Carel's last wife, explained something about the people portrayed in this painting. The figure on the left, looking over his shoulder, is as you probably already understood Carel Willink himself. The bald man on the back is Oswald Spengler, which Willlink admired. The other three persons are also all self-portraits, but in different stages of life, young man, middle age and old man. So it's not a strange thought from you at all and maybe he took his brother as a comparison to his younger self. Kind regards, Sofie

  • Lucas Slot asked

    Ik ben van plan een print van dit schilderij (late visitors to Pompeii) in te lijsten. Is het mogelijk een afbeelding in hoge resolutie op te sturen? (of direct bij jullie zo'n print te kopen)

    Groeten,
    Lucas

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Beste Lucas, op dit moment wordt ons museumgebouw gerenoveerd en het publiek toegankelijke depot gaat pas in het najaar open. Daarom kunnen wij geen reproducties aanbieden. Voor afbeeldingen van werken uit de collectie kun je contact opnemen met images@boijmans.nl. Hartelijke groet, Els.

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More information

This painting was acquired by the museum just two years after it was completed. This shows that Willink was recognised as an important artist very quickly. In comparison with his later illusionistic virtuosity, this painting is fairly crude. However, the alienating effect is very successful. Willink has depicted himself on the left, turning to face the viewer.

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Collection book

Collection book Order

Specifications

Title Late Visitors to Pompeii
Material and technique Oil on canvas
Object type
Painting > Painting > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Width 142 cm
Height 92 cm
Artists Artist: Carel Willink
Accession number 2005 (MK)
Credits Gift Academiefonds, 1933
Department Modern Art
Acquisition date 1933
Creation date in 1931
Entitled parties © Mrs. Sylvia Willink, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2018
Internal exhibitions Carel Willink (2000)
Schilderijen A.C. Willink (1939)
Het voorbeeld van de klassieken (1984)
The Collection Enriched (2011)
De collectie als tijdmachine (2017)
External exhibitions In de schaduw van morgen. (2012)
Dal nulla al sogno (2018)
Dalí, Magritte, Man Ray and Surrealism. Highlights from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2023)
Only the Marvelous is Beautiful (2022)
A Surreal Shock. Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2023)
A Surreal Shock – Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2021)
Surrealist Art - Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2021)
Research Show research A dream collection - Surrealism in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Material
Object
Geographical origin The Netherlands > Western Europe > Europe
Place of manufacture Amsterdam > North Holland > The Netherlands > Western Europe > Europe

All about the artist

Carel Willink

Amsterdam 1900 - Amsterdam 1983

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